Caring for an elderly adult with diabetes can be a major responsibility. Find out what should be done to provide the best possible care for your aging relatives, neighbors, and friends. Create a checklist of basic care routines to help seniors with diabetes live healthier lives.
As a caretaker, learn all you can about diabetes. Read diabetes journals and magazines for the lay person. Visit reputable websites to get more information. Discuss the condition with the senior’s doctors. Join them at routine medicals exams to verify his or her current condition. Determine which and when the senior should see specialists recommended by their primary physician.
Daily Care and Blood Sugar Levels
Talk to the senior’s primary physician about the list of their medications and supplements. Find out how and when the medications should be taken and come up with a plan for the diabetes senior; timing may be crucial for some diabetes medications. When insulin is prescribed, it must be administered at specific times to avoid blood sugar fluctuations. Certain diabetes pills work best when given at proper times as well. Review solutions to make administering insulin easier, such as with a diabetes pump or insulin pen. Draw up insulin in syringes (when cost is a factor) and keep them ready for the senior to give when needed. Have a plan to help the diabetes senior quit unhealthy habits, such as smoking or an excessive intake of alcohol.
Know the signs of low blood sugar and have glucose tablets available for treatment. If your senior has difficulty chewing, have glucose gel ready for emergencies. Personality changes can be an indication of low blood sugars such as argumentativeness or irritability. Other symptoms may include being jittery, sweating, feeling weak or dizzy along with headaches and hunger. Signs of high blood sugar include nausea, fatigue, blurry vision, frequent urination, and extreme hunger or thirst. Alert the doctor if blood sugars remain over 200 dl/mg for 2 days. Understand an underlying infection may be the cause of out of control blood sugars for your senior.
Encourage Healthy Eating
Encourage the senior to eat a balanced diet on a fixed schedule. Take them shopping to help choose the right foods. Make sure there are bags of frozen vegetables or complete frozen meals like Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers to be used when fresh food supply runs low. Encourage eating whole grains, lean meats, fish with omega-3s, such as tuna and salmon, and low-fat or fat-free dairy items. When possible, eat with the diabetes senior to encourage healthy choices. Consider preparing meals and freezing them in proper portion sizes so all they have to do is warm them.
Diabetes Senior Care Tips in Elderly Adults
- Help them by cleaning out their cabinets and refrigerator to get rid of expired items and foods that contain too much sugar, fat, and salt.
- Encourage the senior to fit exercise into each day to manage stress, maintain a healthy weight, reduce diabetes-related complications, and improve glucose tolerance. Take a walk with the senior each day, enroll in yoga classes, play Frisbee in the yard or join a local gym, YMCA or community center. Consider getting a dog for companionship, stress reduction, and a built-in walking companion. Some retirement communities have fitness classes or a swimming pool. When seniors are sedentary, sitting workouts, such as the Silver Sneakers program or chair exercises can get them started. If the senior has physical limitations, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist or physical trainer. Consult with a physician before the senior starts any exercise program.
- Watch for signs of depression, anger or stress, which are often associated with chronic health conditions. Help the senior find ways to reduce stress, such as deep breathing or joining a support group. The senior can attend a diabetes education session to gain a sense of control. Be positive and encouraging and schedule an appointment with a doctor or counselor if the symptoms of depression, anger or stress persist for more than a few weeks.
- Have the senior fitted with shoes that fit correctly to avoid injuries. A podiatrist is the expert on foot care who can also order diabetes shoes. Their toenails should be clipped straight across on a regular basis. They should bathe with lukewarm water, a mild soap, and a soft cloth. Dry the senior gently and apply moisturizer to the skin and feet. Apply diabetic foot cream to the feet, avoiding the areas between the toes.
Being a caretaker is a major responsibility, so make sure you are prepared. Schedule breaks for you to feel fresh and rejuvenated. When you learn more about diabetes, you can provide the outstanding care and treatment the senior needs and deserves.