How Can I Talk to My Loved One About Their Diabetes If They Don’t Want to Talk About It?

Dear Counselor’s Corner,

My sister-in-law was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and I would love to be able to help her any way I can. However, every time I try to talk to her about it, she changes the subject. Do you have any suggestions on how to support someone with diabetes if they don’t seem to want to talk about it?  I just want to help! 

-Jim from San Diego


Dear Jim,

We know that support from others can be a critical component to thriving with diabetes. However, not everyone wants or needs help. The only way to know if someone is interested in your offer of help is to ask. For example, you might say, “I would like to be supportive of your diabetes and would like to be helpful in any way that I can. Is there anything I can do to support you?” If you have diabetes, make sure that you speak for yourself when discussing what has worked for you and avoid giving advice by saying “you should”. When you bring up diabetes to someone you would like to help, make sure you do it in a private way. Many people are reluctant to openly discuss diabetes in front of others because they don’t want to be judged, nagged, blamed or given unwanted advice. Be sensitive that the person you are trying to help might be concerned about that. If the person you are trying to help doesn’t want to discuss their diabetes it can be disappointing. Remember that you can show support in other ways such as preparing a diabetes-friendly recipe, offering to join them in a healthy change, sharing written information you got at a TCOYD event, or by helping your other family members become more diabetes knowledgeable and supportive.

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