6 Ways to Support a Spouse With Diabetes
Experts and people who've been there offer tips on how to support a partner with diabetes -- without nagging.
Diabetes Support Tip No. 3: Help Make Time for Exercise
''One of the biggest issues about exercise is time,'' Funnell says. ''To nag
somebody to exercise --but not offer to do those things that free them up to
exercise -- doesn't work.''
A husband whose wife has diabetes can help her to carve out exercise time by
running extra errands, watching the children, or picking them up from day care
so she can hit the gym after work. Or he could offer to exercise with her to
Or do what the Prices do: Make exercise a priority. On weekends, they
schedule it before any other events.
Diabetes Support Tip No. 4: Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about diabetes, Weiss says. Knowledge is crucial if
your spouse has severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can lead to
seizures, coma, or even death.
''It's very frightening for family members and often for the person with
diabetes,'' Funnell says. ''Know what to do because that helps you to stay less
panicked.'' Learn how to give glucose tablets, orange juice, or regular soda to
raise blood sugar.
When Weiss goes out with her husband, she keeps glucose tablets with her,
especially after he once passed out at a restaurant from hypoglycemia. Call 911
if a partner with diabetes loses consciousness, Funnell says.
Diabetes Support Tip No. 5: Be Prepared for Mood Swings
Low blood sugar can cause those with diabetes, especially if they're on
insulin, to feel nervous, weak, confused, and irritable. Mood swings are
''Know that as the spouse, you will probably become the target of those
swings. But understand that it's not personal,'' Weiss says.
But if mood swings become more frequent or intense, talk to your spouse
about seeking counseling to look for underlying psychological distress, she
Diabetes Support Tip No. 6. If Sexual Problems Arise, Talk About It
Don't ignore the damage diabetes can do to sexual relationships, Funnell
says. Between 35% and 50% of men with diabetes struggle with erectile
dysfunction, according to the National Institutes of Health. Wives have told
Funnell, '''All of a sudden, he doesn't kiss me anymore, he doesn't hold my
hand,' and they miss that. A lot of them say they miss that more than the
actual sexual activity.''