Diabetes is a severe medical condition that affects people of all age groups. It is a medical condition in which the body cells cannot correctly absorb insulin produced by the pancreas to break down the glucose in the body into energy. Diabetes affects many parts of the body. If left untreated can, over time, cause serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, eye problems, kidney disease, and nerve damage and can even lead to amputation. Older people with type 2 diabetes may also be at a greater risk for cancer and Alzheimer′s disease.
Tiredness, increased appetite or thirst, weight loss, frequent urination, and impaired vision are symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Other symptoms may include skin infections or slow healing from cuts and bruises. Some of these symptoms for older people constantly get overlooked as signs of aging, but they could constitute a more significant problem. Elderly people are advised to talk with their doctor if they feel any of these symptoms.
Type 2 diabetes may be managed with a healthy diet and regular exercise, but some people may require diabetic medications or insulin injections. A person may require both lifestyle changes and medicines over time. Regardless of this, there is a need for a diabetes management plan based on your lifestyle, preferences, health goals, and any other underlying medical conditions you may have. Areas of care in managing diabetes are relevant to all age groups, but with elderly people, there are some specific changes.
A bit of Dietician′s advice for an elderly person may differ from standard recommendations. This is because elderly people are often more underweight. There could be a danger of undernutrition, so reducing the fat, salt, and sugar intake with diabetes might not be appropriate.
Poor oral health, some effects of drugs on the digestive system, and limited mobility, agility, or vision are all issues the elderly could face regarding inadequate food intake and lack of a properly well-rounded diet. Fluid intake is equally important, as dehydration can become a severe problem or lead to severe complications. A Dietician should take proper nutritional assessments to address areas where extra calories may be needed or in the case of meal supplements, weight reduction, low salt diet, or manageable foods.
The Klinio app also offers excellent meal plans tailor-made for you and has been recommended by several dieticians.
The elderly need to be kept active as it helps strengthen muscles and maintain and increase mobility and balance, improving insulin sensitivity.
The frailty of older people makes the need for light exercises and balance training important. Just a morning walk around your street would do a lot. Their physiotherapists can teach limb strength and flexibility exercises and monitor by their caregivers for housebound people or confined to a chair or bed. Just remember to ask your doctor about any exercise routines you hope to do.
Watching Out For Hypos
Hypoglycemia, often known as a hypo, occurs when the body’s blood glucose levels fall below 4mmol/l. Senior adults have been proven to have more significant risk factors that might contribute to a hypo. Factors such as Insulin or specific diabetes medication, poor food intake, chronic kidney problems, and underlying illnesses and conditions can all lead to a higher chance of developing Hypoglycemia.
Elderly people tend to have hypo symptoms that are not very obvious, so if there′s a caregiver around, inability to concentrate, personality changes, morning headaches, and sleep disturbance are all signs to watch out for in older people because if hypo isn’t treated quickly, it can lead to more severe symptoms such as,
- Speech or Self-care difficulties
- Poor Appetite
- Loss of consciousness
- Cognitive damage
- Heart Attack or Stroke
Hypo can be easily treated with fast-acting glucose, such as a sugary drink or glucose tablets, followed by a starchy meal. Still, if there is a loss of consciousness, a doctor or ambulance should be contacted immediately.
Maintaining a sound mental state is something to note because depression is more common in people with long-term conditions, which may go unnoticed in older people with complex health problems. Depressive symptoms might make matters worse by factors such as painful neuropathy, foot ulceration, and drug side effects.
Because the risk of dementia increases with old age, you should be cautious of anything that affects your mental well-being because it may impair your ability to manage your diabetes successfully. For elderly people living in care homes, screening on admission and annually is highly recommended.
Also Read: 5 Complications That Come With Diabetes.
Dealing With Illnesses and Hospital Admissions
Elderly persons with diabetes, particularly those in nursing homes, are more likely to be admitted to the hospital in the event of sickness. This is because diabetes can have a more significant influence on the disease, and the condition can, in turn, impact diabetes.
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Blood glucose levels can quickly rise during sickness, especially in dehydrated older adults; consequently, additional monitoring and treatment are required. In cases like this, your care plan must include caregiver instructions. This should also indicate when medical treatment is required. When medical care is necessary, this should be indicated.
If hospitalization is not required, it is helpful to have a copy of the care plan with you so that staff may quickly examine your diabetic medical history and current medication.
Over the years, the number of adults 65 years and older affected by diabetes has steadily increased, leading to a consensus in the medical community that this is an issue that needs to address, and more elderly people have to be educated on how to properly manage and live their lives with diabetes without developing any diabetes-related health problems.
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