What can I do to help?

What can I do to help?

Caregivers and loved ones play an important role in the lives of people living with diabetes. Knowing a bit about diabetes can help prepare you for what you can expect.

Diabetes is a chronic (ongoing, life-long) disease

  • It’s important to understand that diabetes can be a long-term disease that may not be cured
  • Diabetes also comes with other potential health concerns and conditions that will need to be monitored and managed

Diabetes can be tough on the person who has it, and on the people around them

Someone with diabetes may find managing their disease challenging. They may get discouraged, feel overwhelmed and not want to ask for help. In fact, Diabetes Canada reports that 1 in 3 Canadians do not feel comfortable letting others know about their disease at all.

You too may feel discouraged or overwhelmed. But that’s okay. Take a deep breath and start with learning about how you can help.

There are many resources online and in your community that can help you discover how to help your loved one.

Keep the heart top of mind

Understanding more about heart disease and its relation to type 2 diabetes may help put your loved one on a path to better health.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is a group of conditions that can affect the structure and functions of the heart and its blood vessels. It occurs when the heart, or the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart, have been damaged.

What is the link between type 2 diabetes and heart disease?

Diabetes puts people at greater risk of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the most common causes of death from type 2 diabetes.


2–4x more likely to develop heart disease than people without diabetes


May develop heart disease 15 years earlier compared to people without diabetes


Over 3x more likely to be hospitalized for heart health problems

1 in 2 people

1 in 2 people with type 2 diabetes dies due to heart disease

How can you help protect their heart?

Proper management of type 2 diabetes may help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes complications such as heart disease.

There are also medications available in Canada that are indicated, along with diet and exercise, to reduce the risk of dying from events related to the heart or blood vessels if people have type 2 diabetes and a history of heart disease. Talk to your loved one’s doctor for more information about these treatment options.

Take action and ask the right questions

You play an important role in helping your loved one manage their type 2 diabetes and heart health.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

  • How do you plan to manage your diabetes?
  • Do you find managing your diabetes overwhelming?
  • Are there things I can do to make managing your diabetes a little easier?

It’s also important, when possible, to talk with your loved one’s doctor and ask if they have any suggestions on how you can provide more help.

Support your loved ones in living a healthy lifestyle

Help them achieve and maintain a healthy body weight

Support them with healthier eating habits

Help them establish a routine to check their blood sugar

Offer reminders on when to take their medication

Encourage them to visit their doctor regularly for check-ups and schedule reminders

Check out cart2table.ca to find diabetes-friendly recipes you can make for your loved one

Be a partner at their medical appointments

  • Offer to go to doctor appointments with your loved one, to take notes and be a second pair of eyes and ears
  • Bring a list of questions to consider asking your loved one’s doctor during their next visit
Help your loved one protect their heart by making it the reason they visit their doctor

To learn more about caring for someone with diabetes, Diabetes Canada; offers programs and services for people affected by diabetes.

Final thoughts
Don’t be afraid to offer help to your loved one and ask questions when you are unsure. Ask your loved one what would be helpful. And, take advantage of the support offered in your community.
A woman talking to her doctor.

Make the most of your time at doctors’ appointments

Use these questions to help start a conversation with your loved one’s doctor about type 2 diabetes and the importance of heart health.

Questions to ask