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How to Care for Seniors With Diabetes

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A young woman accompanying her mother with diabetes to her doctor's appointment on a regular basis.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet isn’t only to prevent malnutrition in seniors. It’s also an excellent tool for helping them manage their diabetes and live as healthy of a life as possible. This is a significant reason why it’s important to find a senior living community with a team who truly cares about its residents.

This article explores why seniors may need additional support to manage their diabetes and some signs it’s poorly managed. Plus, we’ll also look at 5 practical ways that you can care for a senior with diabetes.

Importance of Managing Diabetes

Regardless of the type of diabetes a person is dealing with, the disease must be managed properly. If left unmanaged or treated, the amount of sugar that builds up in the blood can lead to serious complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, or even loss of vision.

Most people can manage this disease relatively easily by themselves. But as one gets older, this could get more difficult under various circumstances, such as dealing with cognitive decline, trouble getting around, or simply not having access to the right support.

Signs of Poorly Managed Diabetes

Both type 1 and 2 diabetes share some similar symptoms. The signs are pretty evident when the disease isn’t controlled or is poorly controlled.

Some of the signs of poorly managed diabetes include:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Sores that take a long time to heal
  • Excessive infections throughout the body
  • Ketones in the urine

In many communities that offer respite care or assisted living, there is staff that should be able to recognize these signs. But it helps to know what to look for if you don’t have the benefit of medical staff to help care for the senior.

How to Care for Seniors With Diabetes

How you care for a senior with diabetes depends mostly on the person. Everyone will need different levels of care depending on their capabilities. But here are 5 ways that will be beneficial for most seniors:

Learn About Diabetes

The first thing you should do, especially if you don’t come from a medical background, is learn everything you can about the disease. For example, learning to recognize the signs of high and low blood sugar and what you should do in these situations. Additionally, learning how you can help the senior live as normal of a life as possible will be a huge benefit to them.

Help Them Keep Appointments With Medical Professionals

When dealing with diabetes, there are often a lot of visits to see various medical professionals like doctors or podiatrists. For some seniors, it can be difficult to get to all these appointments, whether it’s a problem remembering or simply having no transportation. By helping a senior keep their appointments, you’ll be helping them control their condition.

Encourage an Active Lifestyle

An active lifestyle is an excellent tool for keeping diabetes under control. Unfortunately, as many people age, their ability (and sometimes their will) to stay active declines. There are often workout groups in senior communities. But if you’re caring for someone at home. It could be as simple as going for daily walks with them.

A daughter doing exercise outdoors with her mother with diabetes to keep her active and healthy.

Ensure They Eat a Healthy Diet

The primary way that diabetes affects our bodies is through an imbalance of sugar in our blood. A healthy, balanced diet is one of the best ways to control this outside of medication. For one, there are things that a person with diabetes can’t or shouldn’t eat. And in contrast, there are specific things they should eat or drink.

Unfortunately, many seniors struggle to maintain a healthy diet for many reasons like inability to eat, dementia-related conditions, or mental health problems. As a caregiver, your influence on the diet can greatly support an older adult in controlling their diabetes.

Help With Medications

Insulin is one of the primary medications a person with diabetes needs. But diabetes can often lead to other health issues requiring different medication. For example, a person may lose a lot of feeling in their feet. So, it’s not uncommon for a foot injury to occur and potentially get infected if unnoticed and untreated.

If the senior has medication they’re taking, ensuring they can take it on time, when they need it, is a great help in controlling their diabetes.

How a Senior Community Can Help With Diabetes Management

No matter what kind of senior living community it is or why they do what they do, it’s important to be part of one that cares deeply about its residents. If you or a loved one have care needs like controlling diabetes, give us a shout at Parson’s House. Our compassionate staff is happy to book you a tour, so you can see how our community can support you.

Written by Parsons House Preston Hollow

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