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Managing Diabetes in the Elderly and How Caregivers Can Help

Diabetes is extremely common among the senior population. It is estimated that about 26.8 percent of elderly adults in the United States have diabetes. While seniors are more likely to be impacted by this disease, the good news is that diabetes management is possible. As a caregiver, you can play a vital role in helping to manage your patient’s diabetes diagnosis. With your assistance and support, it is possible for them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few ways that you can help manage a diabetes diagnosis in older adults.

Understand how diabetes affects your elderly patient

The key to managing a diabetes diagnosis is to recognize the signs and symptoms of diabetes and which directly affect your senior patient. Do they often get tired or irritable? Are they more frequently hungry or thirsty? Experiencing sudden weight loss? Making more bathroom visits than usual? Mentioning tingling or numbness in their extremities? Do they have any other existing medical conditions? Diabetes affects everyone differently so knowing the answers to these questions will help you recognize when something is off with their diabetes management and can better inform what changes you should help implement. A diabetes diagnosis often impacts how elderly patients live their daily life. So it is important to gain full insight into their regular activities and draw conclusions as to how that is impacting their management abilities as well.

Create a routine for diabetes management

Elderly adults are at a higher risk of developing more serious complications, so it’s important to create a routine to help manage their symptoms. For example, developing a medication schedule can serve as a reminder of the regular intake of medicines prescribed to your patient, and ensure older relatives that they won’t miss any prescribed doses.

It’s also important to make sure that your senior patient is regularly checking their blood sugar to help manage their diabetes diagnosis. Remind them to check their blood sugar:

  • Before each meal
  • 1 or 2 hours after a meal
  • Before, during, and after physical activity
  • In the middle of the night
  • Before a bedtime snack
  • If they’re feeling sick
  • If they feel their blood sugar levels may be off

In addition to their daily routine care, it’s important to implement regular eye exams, skin assessments, and podiatrist visits into their schedule to help prevent further complications.

Encourage regular exercise to manage diabetes

It’s important for seniors to stay active and physically fit, especially if they’re diabetic. Regular exercise can help elderly adults control their blood glucose levels and manage their diabetes. Based on what your patient’s body can handle, encourage suitable exercises such as dancing, light cycling, swimming, walking, and yoga. You can help an older diabetic stay motivated by planning group exercises that you can do together. If your elderly patient isn’t as mobile, moving around during TV commercial breaks or simple exercises like arm swings can be just as effective in managing a diabetes diagnosis. Regardless of their activity level, even the smallest amount of physical activity can have a positive impact — this is especially true for older adults that sedentary more often than not

By understanding how diabetes affects your elderly patient and creating a routine that fits their needs, a diabetes diagnosis can be managed. As a caregiver, the likelihood of success only increases for seniors when they receive support from you.