Diabetes and communication

Diabetes is a complex issue which can evoke many mixed emotions. It can be helpful for those closest to you to understand the day to day aspects of living with diabetes, and how you might be feeling. We bring you our top five ways to effectively communicate with family and friends about diabetes:

1. Educate.

Help those close to you understand what diabetes is and what it means for you day to day. Maybe you would like to provide them with some of our information sheets on the many different aspects of diabetes and how to look after yourself.

Diabetes and communication
Maybe you would like to invite a family member or friend to one of your appointments, support group meetings, or one of Diabetes NSW events to provide them with more insight into the many ways you can look after your diabetes.

There are also a number of websites that have great resources you can provide to your family and friends which they can read in their own time, particularly helpful if you have anxiety when discussing your diabetes. Behavioural Diabetes Institute has a great resource called “Diabetes Etiquette”, which outlines 10 points of etiquette for people without diabetes. Visit www.behaviouraldiabetes.org to learn more.

2. Be positive.

If you talk and act in a positive and confident way, your family will want to do the same. Using words such as blame, guilt, punishment and saying phrases like, “I guess I deserved this because of my weight,” are not helpful for you both physically and mentally. Also, be careful not to scare your friends and family with phrases like, “Don’t eat that cake or you will end up with diabetes like your mother.” Many people will look to you as a role model, so be aware of the powerful influence you can have by your behaviour and attitude.

3. Speak up.

Correct misconceptions and myths about your diabetes. Stopping eating sugar is an outdated and inaccurate concept. Think of ways that you could respond to that comment, such as, “Thank you for looking out for my health, but did you know that people with diabetes can still eat sugar?” If you are unsure how to respond to different comments and misconceptions, perhaps you could talk to your local diabetes educator and dietitian for guidance and suggestions; you can speak to either of these by calling our Customer Care Line on 1300 342 238.

4. Ask for support.

Are you struggling with motivation to go for that 30 minute walk every day? Ask your partner, family member or even a neighbour to come along with you. Being accountable to someone else, especially someone who you know, can be a very powerful motivator.

5. Be honest

Does it bother you when your partner or friend opens up your blood glucose diary, or peeks at your glucose reading on your meter without asking? Remember that your ‘numbers’ are private and it is up to you who you share those readings with. It is normal to have readings that are sometimes too low or too high. Blood glucose readings and insulin dosages are influenced by a number of factors including food, medication, stress, sleep quality, exercise and also pain. Therefore, the interpretation of your ‘numbers’ is not as simple as many people without diabetes may think. Once again, Diabetes NSW have a number of information sheets that can help you explain your blood glucose readings and many other aspects of looking after your diabetes.

Remember, you cannot control what other people think and do, but you can have an influence by the way you behave. Taking part in activities to improve community education, developing peer support groups, and lobbying and advocacy campaigns are just some ways that you can influence people’s beliefs about diabetes. These activities may also leave you feeling good about yourself.