Roughly one-fourth of the U.S. population has diabetes, including millions of Americans aged 65-and-over. Although there’s no cure, a senior with diabetes can still enjoy a good quality-of-life through diet, exercise and medications. But if their diabetes isn’t managed, it can cause more serious health conditions like heart problems, kidney failure and blindness. If you’re currently caring for an aging in place senior with diabetes, there are several positive ways to keep them healthier and happier, starting with these.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes refers to a group of chronic diseases that are caused by abnormally high levels of blood sugar, or glucose, that present when a person’s body can no longer produce or use the hormone insulin like it should. There are two different types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2:
Type 1: The pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, which means it needs to be supplemented through a pump or by injection. Only 5% of diabetics are Type 1.
Type 2: This occurs when someone’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t efficiently use the little it does produce. Most diabetics are Type 2.
Symptoms of diabetes may include frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, weight loss and fatigue. In addition, those with Type 2 diabetes can experience slow wound healing, confusion, depression, blurred vision and a numbness or tingling in their extremities.
Health Risks Diabetic Seniors Face
If a diabetic senior’s glucose levels aren’t controlled, they could eventually experience these series health problems:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Kidney damage
- Vision and hearing loss
- Poor blood circulation
- Foot problems
When these happen to your loved one, it can quickly place their health and wellbeing at risk.
Helping Seniors Manage Diabetes
Talk to your senior about helping them manage their disease. Then, develop a game plan that starts with diabetes research and meeting with their doctor. If they’re not seeing a physician, help find them one. No matter what type of diabetes your loved one has, these are some proven ways to keep their blood glucose under control:
Exercise and Lifestyle Modifications
Most people with diabetes can still exercise, even if they haven’t done so for years. Simply walking for 20 to 30 minutes several times per week can significantly improve how their body processes glucose. Other good low-impact forms of exercise include:
- Yoga or Tai Chi
- Water aerobics
A senior should drink plenty of fluids and monitor their blood glucose levels before, during and after exercising. In addition to exercise, other lifestyle changes that are beneficial include quitting cigarette smoking, limiting alcohol intake and joining a diabetes support group.
For a senior with diabetes, eating the right kinds of foods in the right amounts is key. Ensure a healthier diet for your loved one by:
- Starting their meal with a broth-based soup or salad
- Limiting their use of sauces and salad dressings
- Replacing high-carb foods with fresh veggies and fruits
- Eliminating sugary foods like pastries, candy and soda
Using the “Create Your Plate” method from the American Diabetes Association is a proven way to provide your loved one with the meals they need.
In addition to diet and exercise, your loved one’s doctor may prescribe:
- Oral medications that help the body produce more insulin or augment the body’s ability to respond to insulin.
- Insulin injections or an insulin pump. There are several different kinds of insulin that the doctor might order, with each lasting in the body for a specific amount of time.
Helping your senior use their medications as prescribed, along with monitoring their glucose levels, is crucial.
Family Trusted In-Home Care for Seniors with Diabetes
Caring for a senior with diabetes is rewarding, but it can also be challenging when you have your own household to manage or live far away. When you need a hand, call Cranberry Home Care. We’re a family owned and operated agency with highly trained respite caregivers who will keep your loved one aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. As a fully licensed and insured home care provider, we also understand the importance of diabetes management, including healthy meals, exercise and medication reminders.
While in your loved one’s home, our carefully screened aides can also perform duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, transportation and companionship. And, all our family trusted services can be individually combined in an affordable package that’ll restore your peace-of-mind. For more information about Cranberry Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home consultation for a senior in Southeastern, MA, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!