In order to support our family and friends struggling with the daily maintenance of diabetes management open communication is crucial. Empathy and the desire to feel heard and understood when it comes to the difficulties of constant balance and dangers are necessary. As family and friends, we can often find it difficult to understand why a person with diabetes “just won’t do what they are supposed to do”. Read on to learn more about the proven scientific method that a person struggling to change their way of life will go through before they are able to make the change.
As a unit, everyone must recognize that a person attempting to manage their diabetes will only be able to do so once they are ready.
- Precontemplation: no inclination how to change behavior related to diabetes management. He or she does not view that there is a problem or is unaware of the problem.
- Contemplation: Aware of a problem with their diabetes management and the consequences of not changing or not adopting self-management behaviors, but still is not committed or motivated to change. They weigh the pros and cons of changing their behavior(s).
- Preparation: Motivated to change, but has not yet started. They are making plans, looking into strategies, or setting concrete goals.
- Action: Has started to change and has maintained the behavior for fewer than six months.
- Maintenance: Maintained the behavior for six months and beyond, and the adopted behavior has become a habit.
- Relapse: Returns to previous behavior(s) of poor diabetes management.
It’s important to recognize what stage a family member living with diabetes is in when it comes to behaviors such as healthy eating, physical activity, taking medications, checking blood sugars, and even accepting a diabetes diagnosis.
Be empathetic toward the person:
- “I care about you and am worried about the complications that diabetes can cause if we don’t make some changes.”
- “I’m worried about what will happen to your blood sugar if you eat too much sugar.”
Ask open-ended questions about what is important in life.
- “What are you looking forward to within the next six months?”
- “What is most important to you?”
A person can never be too supportive when it comes to family and friends, but it is important to educate on what the person struggling may be experiencing at any given time.