Five Things Your Family Should Know About Diabetes

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Diabetes is a hard disease to handle alone. Talking with your family about your diabetes and some of the struggles you face can help you deal with stress, emotions, and other challenges in your life. The National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) is offering some tips for individuals with diabetes about how to talk to family about diabetes care so that family members can provide support.

When not managed properly, diabetes can lead to kidney disease, heart attack, stroke, and other health complications. In fact, diabetes causes over 40% of all kidney failure cases. Many people avoid the long-term problems of diabetes by taking good care of their health. However, it is common to feel overwhelmed, sad, or angry when managing diabetes. That’s why support from your loved ones can be so helpful.

Your friends and family may not be aware of things they can do to best support you. Here are some ideas to share with your loved ones so they can help you reach your goals in managing your diabetes.

  1. Encourage your family to learn more about diabetes. Make sure they know the damage that diabetes can cause to your heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves can be prevented or delayed with proper management and a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Healthy lifestyle changes are necessary when managing diabetes. To live well, you need to be physically active, make healthy food choices, and keep your blood glucose (sugar), cholesterol, and blood pressure under control. Sometimes these changes are easier when your family and friends are involved. Plan group activities and meals to encourage families to be involved in your diabetes care.
  3. Your loved ones can help you make a plan and reach your goals. Work with your loved ones to make a plan to help you reach your goals and manage your diabetes. Think about what you’re able to do, and decide what your goals are.
  4. Routine care is important to disease management. See your health care team for an A1C test at least twice a year, and inform your family of when your appointments are so they can help you stay on track. Every year, make sure to have a dilated eye exam, comprehensive foot exam, dental exam, urine and blood test for kidney problems, a blood test for cholesterol, and your flu shot.
  5. Familiarize yourself and your family with the available resources to help you manage your diabetes. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) website,, has hundreds of resources.

Managing diabetes can be hard, but it’s worth it. By involving your family in your health management, you can make the challenge a little easier. For more information on managing and preventing diabetes and kidney disease, contact the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan at 800-482-1455 or visit

For over a decade, the NKFM has been focused on reducing health disparities. The NKFM has received multi-year grants from the Centers for Disease Control and the HHS Office on Women’s Health to help tackle diabetes disparities. As part of these grants the NKFM will be highlighting the Controlling your Diabetes ABCs campaign. If you have diabetes, you are at high risk for kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke. But you can fight back. You can control the ABCs of diabetes and live a long and healthy life. Ask your healthcare provider what your A1C, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol numbers are and ask what they should be.