Five Steps to Helping Your Spouse Manage Diabetes
Supporting a spouse with diabetes can be a challenge all on its own. Not only do you need to be supportive of your spouse, but you will also need to be as informed as you can about diabetes so you can ensure the decisions you make will not be detrimental to your spouse.
Participate – One way to help your spouse manage their diabetes is to participate in his or her health education and treatments. Go with your spouse to the doctor and learn about diabetes and how it is best managed. If you are the primary chef in the house, meet with a registered dietitian and make sure that you are preparing the foods that are best for your spouse. Take the time to explain some of the information you learn, but don’t preach or lecture in any way.
Help with Smarter Buying Decisions – Another role you can play in supporting your spouse is to only purchase healthy foods for the house. Leave that junk food on the shelves of the supermarket. Focus on products that are low in sugar and fat and high in fiber. You can also use the healthy food you buy and make meals together that you both enjoy. Do not create separate meals for your spouse, instead eat healthy meals together. Remeber to eat at home whenever possible. Limit going out to restaurants where the portion sizes are out of control and the food is laden with salt and sugar.
Encourage Physical Activity Together – After you have finished cooking and eating that nighttime meal, how about heading outside for a walk together? Engaging in exercise together will help your spouse feel better and being actively engaged yourself will show your spouse that you support him or her. This exercise does not need to be strenuous, just a simple walk or bike ride can provide amble bonding time for the two of you. This also brings a perfect opportunity to talk about how you are both feeling about managing diabetes.
Talk and Listen – This is a scary time for both you and your spouse. A diabetes diagnosis is a shock in itself. Then you must both learn how to manage an entirely new lifestyle. If you fail at this, the consequences can be deadly, so there is a lot at risk here. It’s normal to be afraid, pressured and stressed. Take time to listen to your spouse’s feelings first, but be sure you have an opportunity to talk about your feelings as well. When you are in a relationship and one person is diagnosed with diabetes, you may as well both have it. You will both need extra attention.
Your Needs Matter Too – Don’t gloss over your own needs. Caregivers routinely experience high amounts of stress and you will not be able to provide proper care to your spouse without making sure that you are healthy, both physically and mentally. Take the time to read your favorite book or talk to friends. Know that being healthy and happy yourself can benefit your spouse in the long run.
Managing and living with diabetes can be tough, but, as the spouse, you can encourage your partner to make the right decisions so that they can live a long healthy life. Actively engaging in your spouse’s care and letting them know that you are there for them are simple steps you can take that will ensure a longer and happier life together.