Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes for short, is one of the most common chronic diseases in the US. Over 34 million Americans have diabetes, including one-in-four seniors. If not managed properly, diabetes can cause serious complications like heart disease, vision problems, nerve damage and even amputation. Many aging in place seniors with diabetes have trouble keeping their blood sugar normalized. Some may even lose their independence as a result. If you’re serving as an informal caregiver for an elderly loved one who’s diabetic, here’s how to help them enjoy a higher quality of life.
What is Diabetes?
When you hear the term “diabetes”, it’s referring to a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). In a nutshell, diabetes prevents the body from efficiently using the energy that’s found in the foods we eat.
There are also two kinds of chronic diabetes, type 1 and type 2- both of which may cause too much sugar to build up in the bloodstream. Excess blood sugar isn’t healthy. Most diabetics are type 2, and both types share similar symptoms but also those that are quite different. When mismanaged, chronic diabetes can lead to serious health problems and even death.
Diabetes Management Tips for Caregivers
Diabetes can be a very tricky disease to control, especially for those who are older, overweight or who don’t take their medications as prescribed. As a caregiver here’s how to devise a good diabetes management strategy for your aging loved one:
Provide meal planning assistance
Proper meal planning is important for those living with diabetics, including a diet that’s low in saturated fats and sugar. The American Diabetic Association (ADA) lists specific dietary guidelines for those living with diabetes on their website.
Offer to help your senior meal plan and food shop and encourage them to stock up on healthy snacks like Greek yogurt, almonds, cottage cheese and freshly cut veggies. If it’s hard to find time to prepare meals, there are several food delivery services that cater to seniors with diabetes.
Encourage them to exercise
In addition to all the other health benefits it provides, exercising for 20 to 30 minutes three to five times a week also helps normalize blood glucose levels. Low-impact exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi, water aerobics, swimming and walking are best for older participants. Encourage your loved one to exercise regularly but only after they’ve been cleared by their doctor.
Focus on medication management
Taking all their medicines as prescribed is essential for someone with diabetes. So help your loved one devise an efficient medication management system. From daily pillbox organizers with alarms, to downloadable smartphone app reminders, there are numerous resources available that can help your senior stay compliant with all their diabetes meds.
Other ways to assist diabetic seniors
Uncontrolled diabetes can worsen other medical conditions- or be worsened by them. So help your loved one stay healthier with this whole-body, diabetes management approach:
- Monitor their blood glucose levels throughout the day.
- Get them an annual eye exam and dental check-up.
- Check their blood pressure while in the home.
- Keep them up to date with cancer screenings.
- Take them for a yearly physical that includes cholesterol and kidney bloodwork
- If they smoke cigarettes, encourage them to stop.
- Check your loved one’s feet for unusual blisters, sores, infections, callus build-ups or breaks in the skin.
If your schedule is like most, taking all these steps can be nearly impossible some days. Another option you have is to hire your senior a “personal assistant” from a licensed home care provider.
Reliable In-Home Diabetes Management for Seniors
When you’re busy or live far away, managing your aging loved one’s diabetes can be difficult. When you need a hand contact Adultcare Assistance Homecare (AAH). At AAH we’ve been assisting Arizona families for over 20 years now with our award-winning homecare services, including dietary support and medication reminders. As a locally owned agency our highly trained caregivers can also perform duties like light housekeeping, companion care, respite care, personal care, transportation and even 24-hour live-in care.
From monitoring vitals to helping with activities of daily living our compassionate professionals create personalized care plans for each individual person they care for. To learn more about AAH now, or to get a FREE home care assessment for a senior in Phoenix, Sun City or Tucson, AZ, today, please visit us at: www.adultcareassistance.com!