Managing Diabetes

managing diabetes

The Endocrine Society estimates that roughly 33% of adults 65 and older have type 2 diabetes. The good news is that with the right proactive care and management, many adults can reverse their diabetes. 

When that isn’t possible, commitment to managing diabetes through healthy lifestyle choices – particularly with diet and exercise – can significantly lower the medication doses required to keep blood sugar levels in check.

Managing Diabetes For A Long & Healthy Life

Diabetes management is a multi-faceted process. Here are five steps to helping your parent or loved one manage diabetes so they can enjoy a long, active, and satisfying senior lifestyle.

Connect with your loved one’s healthcare team

If your parent or grandparent has diabetes, we recommend going with them for a visit – or scheduling a telehealth consult – so you can connect with their physician or diabetes management team. It’s important that you have all of the information as your loved one does so that you can create a consistent and supportive care plan.

Speak to their doctor about whether reversing or lowering medications is possible. In many cases, the answer is yes, but it requires a clear plan that must be adhered to without fail. 

A diabetes-specific diet is essential

Diet is one of the essential players when managing diabetes. The internet is an incredible resource for learning about and implementing a diabetes diet. In most cases, these diets look like modified Adkins or South Beach diets. They prioritize healthy proteins, fats, and high-fiber foods while minimizing and eliminating processed starches and sugars. 

There is no need to feel disappointed about a diabetes diet. With the right planning and access to fresh foods, ingredients, herbs, and spices, your loved one can eat delicious, nutritious, and satisfying foods – including sugar-free treats replicating their favorite snacks, sweets, and desserts.

Your conversation with their doctor should include lots of diabetes diet information. We recommend learning about antiinflammatory diets and modifying them for diabetes management. In addition to supporting senior nutrition and health, antiinflammatory diets reduce or eliminate side effects from other common senior ailments, like heart disease and arthritis

If your senior loved one isn’t likely to adhere to a diet on their own, enlist the help of a senior caregiving agency that offers grocery shopping, meal planning, and meal prep. We can prepare healthy easy-to-reheat meals and snacks that keep their diabetes plan on track.

Most people with type 2 diabetes fare best when they migrate away from the “three square meals a day” model. Blood sugar levels stay more consistent – and people tend to feel better – when they eat six to seven smaller meals and snacks throughout the day and evening.

Exercise at least once per day

Physical activity is another essential step in balancing blood sugar. There’s no need to go crazy here. The goal is to get the body moving as regularly and comfortably as possible. There are so many ways for seniors to get the exercise they need, even when they’re averse to joining a gym or taking an exercise class.

  • Taking a morning and/or evening walk
  • Going on an accessible hike once or twice a week
  • Gardening
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Swimming at the local pool
  • Following along with an exercise or yoga video on YouTube

Is your loved one chair- or bed-bound? That’s okay. There are plenty of ways to move their body in the chair or bed that support weight management and blood sugar balance.

Medication management

For most seniors, oral or injectible medicine is required to keep blood sugar levels in check. This requires regular blood sugar monitoring and administering the right amount of insulin accordingly. There is little room for error here, as severe reactions occur when blood sugar levels get too high – or too low – for any length of time.

If your loved one has trouble managing blood sugar levels, or they have dementia, caregivers are essential to the medication management part of the diabetes equation.

Proactively preventing – or noticing – diabetes complications

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis automatically elevates a person’s risk of additional health complications. For example, people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop:

  • Vision loss as a result of diabetic retinopathy and faster cataract growth
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Vascular (circulation) complications
  • High blood pressure
  • Gum disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s
  • And the list continues

That last one is worth emphasizing because in addition to increasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, adults with Alzheimer’s and diabetes experience a faster progression of the disease without proper diabetes care.

Caregivers Provide Senior Diabetes Management & Care

Does your aging loved one with diabetes want to remain at home, aging independently in place? Are you afraid they aren’t able to manage diabetes at home on their own? In-home caregivers are an ideal solution.

There are several ways we can support your loved one’s healthy lifestyle requirements:

Meal planning and preparation

As we mentioned in the section on diabetes-specific diets, access to fresh ingredients and meal planning/preparation is critical for adults with diabetes. If your loved one is unable to keep up with this task, caregivers can do that for you. Depending on the client and family’s needs, caregivers can come once a week – or multiple times per week – to make sure fresh diabetes-friendly foods and snacks available at all times.

Encouragement and companionship during exercise time

Caregivers can also provide encouragement and companionship during exercise time. Whether that means driving clients to/from senior-specific exercise classes, accompanying them on walks or outings that get them moving, or gardening in the backyard – we’ll make sure physical movement is incorporated into every shift. 

We’re happy to work with your occupational therapists or physician to create a specific exercise routine to focus on balance, strength training, or whatever is needed to optimize physical fitness, stamina, and weight management.

Managing diabetes medication

In-home caregivers can ensure your parents take their medicines as prescribed and on time. We can also help clients chart blood sugar levels and doses (we cannot legally administer the medications but provide them to the client at the right time and in the correct dose). 

Respite care

If a spouse or family caregivers are already at the helm, caregiver agencies can provide invaluable respite care services. This gives primary caregivers much-deserved breaks on a regular basis. We can also step in for longer shifts so that family caregivers can take a decent vacation.

We’re Here To Help

Schedule an in-home assessment with HomeAide Home Care. Our caregivers are available for respite care, part-time or full-time shifts, and are educated and trained in diabetes management for seniors and those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We’ll help you create a plan that honors your loved one’s independence, safety, and well-being.

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