Living with a person with diabetes means that one should be knowledgeable about the condition, be able to help the person with diabetes as necessary and know what to do in case of an emergency. It is not easy to live with diabetes. It requires self-discipline, application of knowledge as well as support from the people around you. It is important that those people understand that diabetes does not define you, but is a part of who you are.
When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, one of the biggest challenges is helping those closest to them understand not only what must change in one’s life, but why. In childhood, the child’s parents, schools and sports groups, for instance, are venues in which healthfully sharing aspects of diabetes care is indicated.
As our children mature, they might choose to go to camp, attend summer programs, go to college and perhaps, live with a roommate, and eventually, life partner. As a responsible person with diabetes, one must educate those who will be supports in potential times of need.
Diabetes should not be kept secret. When speaking openly about diabetes, other people will feel more comfortable. Without diabetes education, roommates or partners might feel uncomfortable: he or she may have preconceived, false ideas about diabetes. Educating the persons develops their comfort as well as providing you with a safety net: those persons need to know that as much as well-cared for diabetes does not interfere with activities of daily living, diabetes must be taken seriously. The potential downside of presenting diabetes as simply a manageable aspect of life is that people may assume that diabetes is not a ‘big deal’. It is important for those with whom one lives and/or loves to understand that blousing or injecting insulin, testing glucose and testing for ketones, eating healthfully and exercising is essential to maintaining good health. They also need to understand that there is the potential to have a serious low that requires treatment, that a person with diabetes can become ill, and can even lose consciousness. The person must understand what action must be taken if, for instance, you are low and cannot treat yourself.
When one lives with a person with diabetes, one should learn as much as one can about the condition. With this understanding, it is helpful in understanding the emotions and practical demands of diabetes management. Understanding and becoming involved might indicate support for the person with diabetes, and demonstrates that you care. Some partners might reject involvement: they might feel intruded upon if a partner asks about glucose readings or reminds the person to take insulin. The roommate or partner and the person with diabetes should discuss what seems to work best for them. Communication is essential in living together, diabetes or not. Understanding of and empathy for managing diabetes is necessary to make living together a success.