Managing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is a constant challenge, even more so for seniors who may have lost some manual dexterity, have memory problems or suffer from nerve damage. In-home healthcare may be the best option for some families; however, if you are caring for a loved one with diabetes you should be aware of the following potential issues.
Blood glucose testing is the primary tool for a person with diabetes to manage their disease. Today’s glucose meters tendto be small and can be difficult to handle for persons with limited movement in the hands and fingers.
Anyone can easily learn how to operate a glucose meter; it involves a simple finger prick for a blood sample and –for most meters—just five seconds to read the result. Most diabetics are instructed to test their blood sugar 3-4 times a day.
The result of the blood glucose test will determine what the next dose of insulin or other medication should be. You’ll need to not only learn how to use the meter, but also keep a document handy with doctor’s instructions regarding how to adjust medications based on these test results. Obviously, seniors who have memory problems will need close monitoring to ensure that tests are conducted on schedule and that medications are accurately dispensed.
If your loved one exhibits odd behaviors, don’t assume that these are a result of aging or dementia! Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) reactions can cause slurred speech, dizziness and anxiety; a person experiencing hypoglycemia can appear to be drunk. If you see this kind of behavior you will want to test your loved one’s blood sugar immediately.
Finally, persons with diabetes are prone to develop sores that won’t heal, especially on their feet. If the person has diminished sensation due to nerve damage, a small cut or blister can become gangrenous surprisingly quickly, often leading to amputations. Be sure to check the person’s feet regularly; at least every 3-4 days.
Caring for diabetes is a 24-hour-a-day job that is difficult for a family member to take on; a better option might be to hire a service that provides in-home care for your loved one. If you’re fortunate, you have the home care experts at your service: Home Matters. We provide a full spectrum of in-home care to help your loved one live independently for as long as possible and give you peace of mind. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact us.