Caring for an older adult with diabetes can be difficult. However, the more you know about the disease, the better equipped you will be to provide the kind of care your aging relative needs. In addition, you’ll feel more confident and comfortable being an advocate for their health.
To get you started on learning more about diabetes, below are 4 important facts for you to know.
#1: Diabetes Affects Millions of People
If your older family member sometimes feels like they are alone in their fight with diabetes, they most certainly are not. Unfortunately, there are 30 million people in the United States alone who have diabetes. In addition, in excess of 84 million adults in the U.S. have prediabetes. 90 to 95 percent of cases of diabetes are type 2, making only about 5 percent type 1 diabetes. The number of cases of diabetes has doubled over the past two decades, mainly because of an aging population and more people who are overweight or obese.
#2: Diabetes Can Lead to Many Complications
If your older family member’s diabetes isn’t kept under control, it’s likely to do a lot of damage to their body. High blood sugar damages blood vessels, which can lead to complications including:
- Kidney disease.
- Nerve damage.
- High blood pressure.
- Heart disease.
#3: Taking Medications as Instructed is a Must
The doctor may prescribe medications, including insulin, to treat diabetes. It’s vital that the older adult takes the medications according to the instructions. Taking too much insulin can result in dangerously low blood sugar, which can be life threatening. Taking too little, though, will not keep blood sugar within its target level.
#4: Lifestyle Changes Are a Major Part of Diabetes Management
In addition to taking the medications prescribed by the doctor, your older family member can manage the disease by making some lifestyle changes. One of the main changes they’ll need to make is their diet. Eating a healthy diet aimed at keeping blood sugar levels steady and low is important. In addition, your aging relative will need to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. If the senior smokes, quitting will help them to better control diabetes, too.
Elder care can help you to care for an older adult with diabetes. Elder care providers can assist with some of the most important aspects of diabetes management, including the preparation of healthy meals that conform to the senior’s meal plan. In addition, an elder care provider can remind the older adult when it is time to check their blood sugar or take medication. Since diabetes requires more frequent visits to the doctor, it may also be helpful to have an elder care provider drive your loved one to their appointments.