Here is a basic diabetes etiquette guide with Do’s and Don’ts that people with diabetes would like you to follow. You will be doing your loved one a favour if you also share these with others in your close circle.
People with diabetes are often faced with thoughtless or ill-considered behavior from other people. Often this is due to lack of understanding about the condition and its management. Other times it can be due to well-meaning but intrusive unsolicited advice or interference. This can be a particularly hard line to tread for family members and close friends of people with diabetes.
Consider the following:
“Do let me know I can count on your support”. Make it clear to your family member or friend that you are there to help and support them on their journey with diabetes. Become knowledgeable about diabetes so that you can offer genuine help when requested. Acknowledge that you know diabetes management can sometimes be challenging and that you’re aware there are likely to be setbacks sometimes. Offer reassurance that you will be there with support, not criticism.
“Do ask what you can do”. The type of help your family member or friend needs may be different from the assistance you think they need. Start a conversation so they can guide you in the right direction and give you some specifics.
“Do acknowledge my efforts”. Diabetes management can be a lot of work. Do make a point of recognizing the efforts your family member or friend is putting in to reach their diabetes management targets.
“Do join me in a healthier lifestyle”. Healthy eating and physical activity is good for everyone. When you make healthy lifestyle changes, you will be doing yourself a favour and you will be making it easier for your loved one too.
“Don’t call me a diabetic”. Your family member or friend is a person first, and there is much more to them than their diabetes. If it is important to communicate to someone that they have diabetes, avoid labels and instead mention that “John has diabetes” or “John is living with diabetes”.
“Don’t immediately tell everyone you meet about my diabetes”. In most circumstances, the decision about who and when to tell should be left to the person living with diabetes.
“Don’t keep on at me all the time about my diabetes management”. This can be a difficult balance for caregivers to strike. You care about your family member or friend and it’s hard to step back when you see them slipping with their diabetes management. Ultimately, however, your loved one is the person in control of their diabetes – not you. For some helpful guidelines, read Giving support without taking control.
“Don’t look at my blood glucose numbers without my permission”. Unless your family member with diabetes is a child, they have the right to decide whether or not to share their numbers with you.
“Don’t look shocked when I check blood glucose levels in public”. Blood glucose management can be hard enough for people with diabetes, without having to worry about constantly disappearing to check blood glucose levels in private. The same applies to insulin injections.
If you have learned other Do’s and Don’ts through your own experiences, please do share them with the Diabetes Care Community by posting in the Community Forums section of the website.