Anyone who’s ever had diabetes – or known someone who has – can testify to just how life-altering and debilitating it can be. And unfortunately, your risk of developing the disease only increases with age. This might explain why almost 11 million older adults (which is 25% of their total population) have it. Contrast that to the 8% of those in the U.S. who suffer from the condition, and you can see why senior diabetes is a special concern for your loved one.
Blood Sugar Monitoring
One of the most important parts of managing diabetes is blood sugar monitoring. Most of the time, this involves a single (though admittedly, unpleasant) finger stick and machine reading a few times a day. It doesn’t typically pose a problem for an able-bodied person. However, for older adults with shaking hands, poor vision, and more, it can be all but impossible. A visiting nurse can assist the patient with this at home, or teach family members how to do it.
Unfortunately, taking multiple medications is often a part of daily life for those with diabetes, and older adults are no exception. However, this group is at higher risk for medication mix-ups than others. Low vision, forgetfulness, dementia, and other conditions make it hard for certain patients to remember to take their medications. Or sometimes, they might not take them on time, in the right order, or in the right combinations. Medication management by a licensed nurse — paired with daily reminders by a home health aide — makes overcoming this issue much easier.
The Diabetes Diet
Another disagreeable aspect of living with diabetes is the diet. Diabetics are constantly told that in order to keep their blood sugar levels in check, there’s a long list of foods that are off-limits. Most of them involve simple sugars and carbohydrates, i.e., the things we all love to eat. Sticking to this diet is challenging for almost everyone. But if your loved one is no longer able to cook meals on their own, a home health aide should be considered. This person can prepare simple dishes — and even clean up afterward. A home consult from a nutritionist can even help create meal plans that are both safe for diabetics and pleasing to your loved one’s palate.
Getting Enough Exercise
Physical fitness is especially important for those with diabetes – yes, even older adults! It’s been found to be key in keeping blood sugar levels stabilized.[1. “Exercises to Lower Your Blood Sugar,” https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/nutrition-world-2/exercise-lower-blood-sugar] Even if they can’t get as much exercise as they used to, every little bit counts. If they’re unable to do so on their own, home health aides can help take them on walks, do wheelchair exercises, and more. Your loved one may even qualify for physical therapy[2. “Do I Need Physical Therapy?” June 25, 2014, https://physicaltherapy.about.com/od/typesofphysicaltherapy/a/WhoneedsPT.htm], which can help keep them stronger and more independent at home.
Going to the Doctor
Diabetics must make more trips to their physicians than other people; it’s just another fact of life with this condition. But what if your loved one no longer drives or doesn’t feel safe driving? It can be stressful (and at times, impossible) for family members and friends to constantly take off from work to transport them. This is another area where home care is recommended. Home health aides often provide their own cars (though they can use their clients’ cars as well) to get older adults where they need to go.
Get Senior Diabetes Under Control Now
Senior diabetes isn’t just a disease that affects your loved one today — it puts them at increased risk of complications as they get older. These complications can affect their heart, eyesight, hearing, and other key aspects of their health. But by providing the right type of home care, you may be able to delay or prevent such problems entirely. Don’t wait to get senior diabetes under control — start thinking about the appropriate home care options today.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.