Caring Currents

Yelling and Nagging: Not the Way to Keep Someone With Diabetes on Track

Last updated:

April 24, 2008

Compliance. Adherence. Following doctor's orders.

Whatever you choose to call it, most caregivers agree that one of the hardest parts of looking after someone with type 2 diabetes is getting him to do what he's supposed to. Dad, who's had diabetes for years, recently had a stroke, and yet he continues to smoke.  Mom struggles with managing her diabetes and keeping UTI's at bay, but still she can't give up her sweets.

Sound familar? If your parent has had diabetes for some time, then chances are you've already figured out that nagging, yelling, bossing, lecturing, and pleading won't make him watch what he eats. Or get some exercise. Or check blood sugar. Or even take his meds.

So how can you make a difference? Sometimes, it's something as simple as how you deliver the message. Instead of telling your parent what to do, try quizzing him on what he's willing to do, advises expert Theresa Garnero. Think dialogue, not monologue: Ask questions. Listen. Dig deeper: Look beyond the complaints and excuses to find out what's really preventing your parent from following the treatment plan. With a change in your attitude, you might just make some headway.

And while your parent needs your love and support, you may be surprised to learn that he may also need a little space to deal with the disease on his own terms. "My kids were always asking me what my numbers were," recalls one man. "I knew it was because they were concerned about my health, but it felt like I was being judged or controlled. Once I let them know how I felt, the constant questions stopped, and I was more willing to let them know if I needed their help."

That kind of first-hand advice can be invaluable.  So what techniques have you tried that have gotten your parent or partner to heed doctors' recommendations?

Image byJonel Hanopol used under the Creative Commons attribution license.