Aker Kasten Blog

Tips to Cope with Caregiving & Senior Diabetes

by: John Aker | June 27th, 2017

Senior DiabetesSenior diabetes is known to raise the risk of a number of major health problems, including heart disease and kidney failure. More recently, studies have also linked diabetes to speedier mental decline and dementia in seniors.

Age is one of the most significant factors in the risk for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association found that 23.1% of seniors over the age of 60 have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that can be positively affected by caregiving, so an understanding of the risks, treatments and even prevention are essential in protecting your loved one.

Diabetes in seniors can manifest itself differently than what you might traditionally associate with the disease in younger people. For instance, one of the scariest side effects of diabetes in seniors is heart disease. Others can include kidney failure, eye complications such as blindness or glaucoma, foot and skin complications, deterioration of mental health, high blood pressure, arterial disease & stroke.

Living with senior diabetes is really a question of making good life management choices and as a caregiver, you can strongly influence many of those lifestyle choices. Learning what works best is much of the battle against diabetes. Aker Kasten Home Health Care recommends the following:

  • Food Choices are #1 – First and foremost, the most important part of managing diabetes is diet. Caregivers are most likely responsible for shopping or meals, so understanding what foods are good for diabetes and what foods should be avoided can make all the difference. High-carbohydrate foods, such as breads, pastas, potatoes, chips, candy and desserts are foods that will increase blood sugar levels. Keeping track of blood sugar is crucial – higher blood sugar can lead to stroke and heart attack.
  • Get Moving – Exercise is the second most important step to controlling diabetes. Depending on the senior’s ability, any type of exercise is helpful. Running, walking, tennis, golf, gardening – even yoga – provide wonderful benefits for the heart, muscles and mental health. Make sure to check with the doctor prior to beginning any new exercise program. Find out what the senior enjoys and try and incorporate that into a daily routine.
  • Be Aware – The third tip in managing diabetes in seniors is to regularly check for signs of complications. Be aware that seniors don’t always express difficulties or symptoms. If dementia is in play or even a little bit of denial, you won’t necessarily hear complaints. As a caregiver of a senior with diabetes, keeping your eyes and ears open is key.

Make sure to check the senior’s feet for infection, as neuropathy is a frequent problem with diabetics and loss of feeling can be common, causing unreported open sores or lack of circulation. Also be sure to check skin frequently for signs of fungus, infection and even boils. Finally, it is important to medically monitor with blood sugar tests and journals, and ensure that the senior has enough tests and supplies.

Diabetes does not have to be scary for a senior and definitely not for family caregivers. For more tips or information, please contact the home health care experts in Boca Raton, Aker Kasten Home Health Care at 561.955.6010.

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