Diabetes is a lifelong condition that is very common among the aging population. According to a recent report by a United States non-profit organization, more than 15 million American seniors are fighting diabetes. Age is the biggest risk factor when it comes to type 2 diabetes, which is the prevalent form of the illness.
When it comes to aging adults, diabetes usually requires special attention, proper treatment from a healthcare provider, and a lot of diligent assistance from family caregivers. Here are eight ways you can help your beloved senior manage diabetes and maintain a healthy blood glucose level.
1. Monitor their glucose level regularly
Older adults with diabetes are at greater risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), especially when taking diabetes medication, making it essential to check their glucose levels regularly. Low blood sugar is often below 70 mg/dl, and you should take action to bring it back up. Diabetic adults should maintain an average glucose level between 70 mg/dl and 80 mg/dl before meal and less than 180 mg/dl after two hours of meal.
Symptoms of low blood sugar include dizziness, sweating, confusion, and hunger. If your loved one with diabetes shows these signs, give them 10 to 20 grams of sugar or carbohydrates. Seek medical help if the blood sugar level doesn’t improve after 15-30 minutes.
2. Seek professional help
While it’s good to be involved in helping your elderly loved one manage their diabetes, you can’t help enough if you have a busy schedule. An assisted living community can provide the support your senior family member needs, so they can continue to live independently. Get the best doctors and dentist appointments from this website for the elderly.
A professional assisted living community like Longhouse has staff trained in managing diabetes in seniors. This is particularly reassuring for a family with a loved one with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia. Assisted living can also be worthwhile if you are concerned about your loved one not tracking their blood sugar or taking medication correctly.
3. Examine their limbs for wounds every day
Sepsis, which can occur when a small wound becomes infected and doesn’t heal, is one of the biggest dangers for older adults with diabetes. Since diabetes can also lead to numbness in the hands or feet, some aged people might not realize they are injured. Carefully check your loved one’s limbs daily, particularly the feet, for scrapes or cuts. Be sure to disinfect any injuries immediately and seek medical attention if they don’t heal.
4. Encourage physical exercise
Being active makes the body more sensitive to insulin, which helps manage diabetes. Physical exercise also helps regulate blood glucose levels and minimize the risk of nerve damage and heart condition.
Aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, and swimming can help control glucose levels, manage weight, and stay strong. Strength training like weight-lifting, yoga, and resistance bands can also help build muscles and maintain sugar levels. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, at least five days a week.
However, it’s important to note that it can be dangerous to work out when the blood glucose level is already low. Therefore, follow physical exercise guidelines, such as scheduling exercise about an hour after a meal when the blood sugar level is usually higher. You should also carry emergency items like water, glucose tablets, and carb-rich snacks anytime you and your loved one exercise away from home.
5. Manage their medications
Approximately 40% of the aging population in the United States suffers from age-related memory impairment. That means people usually forget things as they grow older.
It’s essential to oversee medication management to ensure your elderly loved one is taking their medicine at the right time. Proper management of medications and pills is a critical part of managing diabetes, so it would also be helpful to check this occasionally.
The most common medication for diabetic patients is insulin. Nevertheless, the healthcare provider may prescribe other drugs to control blood glucose if your senior has type 2 diabetes. It’s essential to follow the doctor’s recommendations and ensure your loved one takes their medications at the right time every day. You might need to set a reminder if your senior loved one is forgetful to let them know when to take their medications.
6. Offer emotional support
Diabetic patients usually feel isolated, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the demands of managing their condition. It’s also rather easy for an aging family member to think of themselves as a burden.
Offering emotional support to your loved one can help alleviate these feelings and give the encouragement and motivation required to maintain healthy habits. This may include support from family and friends, support groups, or online communities.
It’s also crucial for diabetic patients to educate themselves about their condition, including understanding the causes of diabetes, how to manage the disease, and the importance of regular check-ups. A better understanding of diabetes can help them feel more in control and less overwhelmed.
7. Encourage them to get regular medical check-ups
Diabetes is closely linked with other health issues, such as heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure. Therefore, as a family caregiver, you must ensure your senior stays on top of their healthcare provider’s appointments and treatment plans. Older adults with diabetes need to regularly consult with their healthcare providers to:
- Check their cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- Examine their hands and feet for signs of damage
- Remain on top of pneumonia and flu vaccinations
- Maintain their oral health by regularly visiting a dentist
- Check up on their quality of eyesight and hearing
8. Help them prepare and eat healthy meals
Nutrition is among the most significant aspects of managing diabetes. A healthy diet can alleviate some symptoms for an elderly adult with mild diabetes.
Ensure your loved one takes foods low in sugar and hydrogenated fats. It’s also essential for them to get a lot of fiber from vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. Carbohydrates can cause problems if consumed in high amounts, so ensure your senior family member stays below 60g of carbohydrates a day.
As part of their treatment plan, your senior family member can work with a diabetes dietitian to develop a healthy eating strategy based on their nutritional needs. Since Medicare may cover the appointments every year, you won’t have to pay out of pocket for a visit.
Caring for a senior loved one with diabetes can be rewarding but, at the same time, overwhelming. Fortunately, these essential tips can help you give your senior family members the support and help they need to maintain their quality of life while living with diabetes.