How to help your over-carers

We know it’s important when living with diabetes to self-manage as much as possible. We also know loved ones will be concerned about your health and you may need their help with your diabetes care.

However, the reality is that well-meaning loved ones can become irritating if their enthusiasm for the caring role goes into overdrive. If you’re becoming frustrated with your over-caring support person, here are a few tips to help you diffuse the situation.

Be tactful

Remember that people who love you are usually genuinely concerned about your health and yet may not know how best to support you.  Being tactful in all your exchanges can ease or avoid unintended conflict.

Show your gratitude

Your support person is no doubt always willing to be helpful but may just be over-enthusiastic and jumping in when not really needed. Showing how much you do appreciate all that has been done for you is a kind beginning to opening new channels of communication.

Know your own goals

Reflect on the goals you want to achieve. You can then invite your support person to become involved and to help you achieve your goals, perhaps even to make suggestions for small steps along the way. A team effort can be satisfying and productive.

Foster your independence

Developing self-management skills is one of the crucial principles of diabetes management. If you feel you don’t have space or freedom to foster your confidence in decision making, it’s probably time to have a conversation with your support person. While you may need help physically and emotionally, maintaining your independence is important.

Set and manage boundaries

Knowing your personal limitations can help you to set boundaries for yourself and others. Setting and managing boundaries is not necessarily to exclude interaction. Boundaries may help maintain a clear sense of when you need help and when you don’t. Be realistic and adaptable when necessary.

Keep lines of communication open

Don’t assume that your support person understands your condition, your feelings or concerns. Taking your main support person to your health team appointments can provide necessary knowledge and a sense of security for both of you. Understanding from all concerned can lighten burdens and create space for honest communication.

Carers have stress, too

Be mindful that your support person may feel overwhelmed, helpless, or anxious. If your support person isn’t regularly taking time-off to de-stress and recharge their batteries, they may burn out after a while. Encourage rest, relaxation and suggest some fun activities for time out.

Seek support

Both you and your carer may consider seeing a psychologist under a Mental Health Care Plan to assist with strategies to manage the stresses of diabetes, for you, your carer or for those helping to care for someone living with diabetes. It may prevent both of you from burning out. See your GP for a referral.

By Helen Jackson

Diabetes Queensland Accredited Practising Dietitian,

Credentialled Diabetes Educator

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