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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 130 million people in the United States have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Nearly 50% of adults over the age of 65 are pre-diabetic. If you are a caregiver for an aging adult, there is a chance you are helping them manage diabetes or pre-diabetes. 

If it is not controlled long-term complications can include: 

  • Nerve Damage 
  • Stroke 
  • Blindness 
  • Hearing Impairment 
  • Heart Attack 
  • Kidney Failure 
  • Need for Amputation 
  • Skin Infections 

We have made an essential checklist for caregivers supporting someone with diabetes. This checklist will hopefully give them a better quality of life by leading a healthier lifestyle. 

Learn about Diabetes

To ensure you give the best care it is important you educate yourself on diabetes. So, what is diabetes? 

According to the World Health Organization, “Diabetes is a chronic, metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (or blood sugar) which leads over time to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves.”.  

There are three types of diabetes: 

Type 1 – Where the pancreas produces little to no insulin. 

Type 2 – Affects the way the body processes blood sugar. 

Pre-diabetes – A condition in which blood sugar is high, yet not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. 

For more information on diabetes, visit these online resources, American Diabetes Association or Mayo Clinic.

Help Aging Adults with Exercise

Being physically active helps keep blood sugar levels down and aids in weight loss. However, it’s important to know the best time to exercise. If the blood sugar is low, it could be dangerous to exercise. It is best after a meal, when blood sugar levels are generally higher. 

Determine Stress Relieving Techniques

Blood sugar levels rise when a person is agitated, frustrated, and stressed. People that do not have diabetes have a fight or flight mechanism when stress increases. This mechanism does not work for people with diabetes—instead, their blood sugar spikes. Teach your aging loved one positive stress relieving techniques such as yoga and meditation. 

Ensure the Aging Adult has a Medical ID

With diabetes, you can have diabetic emergencies at any time. These emergencies include fainting from low blood sugar, going into shock from diabetic ketoacidosis, or even developing a wound that turns into a severe infection. When you cannot be with your loved one a Medical ID tag can be a helpful tool for anyone coming to your loved one’s aid. You could also consider purchasing a medical alert piece of jewelry that sends a message to 911 with the push of a button. 

Help with Self-Monitoring

There are at-home blood sugar monitors that track accurate blood glucose levels. Teach them how to use this device properly and record how their diet, physical activity, and stress are being controlled over time.  

There are support groups available for caregivers of aging adults with diabetes. At Next Day Access, we are also here to lend a hand. We offer accessibility devices like grab bars and handles or mobility equipment such as wheelchairs and scooters. Sometimes your loved one will feel weak as they battle diabetes, and we have solutions to help them in those times. Don’t hesitate to contact your nearest Next Day Access if you have questions about our products and services. 

If you are working with a doctor to help the aging adult in your life get the best care possible, how do you determine if every recommended treatment or test will be harmful or helpful? Yes, Doctors are the experts when it comes to treating disease, but you are the expert at knowing what the aging adult in your life wants or needs.

Therefore, it is important you attend every doctor’s visit with them. Some aging adults may not be able to convey their direct wishes and rely on you to help them speak with the doctor. The doctor needs you to let them know if the treatments they would like to try are realistic for the aging adult’s situation and if they will actually improve their quality of life. Here is a list of 5 questions you should have prepared to ask the doctor at your loved one’s next appointment. 

5 Questions to Prepare

  1. Do they really need this test? Usually, the tests are essential because they help the doctor or nurse determine the correct treatment. Yet, if the tests are invasive or painful, your loved one might not want to go this route. If you and the doctor agree the tests are crucial, you could take some time alone with your loved one to gently explain why the tests are important and encourage them. Remember, however, the choice is ultimately up to them. 
  1. What are the risk factors of the tests or treatments? Will there be side effects? Will the results involve more testing, possibly leading to another procedure? 
  1. Is there a safer or simpler option? There is a chance that your loved one just needs to make lifestyle changes, such as eating better and getting more exercise. 
  1. What happens if your loved one decides they do not want to do any tests or treatments? Ask the doctor if the condition will get better or worse if they do not have the tests right away? 
  1. How much will the treatments or tests cost? Again, this is your opportunity to determine how much their insurance may cover. It would help if you also used this time to ask about generic medication vs. name-brand medication. 

Be an ally to the aging adult in your life. Make sure you talk to the doctor about them receiving the right amount of care. 

At Next Day Access, our goal is to support caretakers and aging adults by offering all the supplies they need to live a comfortable and safe life at home. We offer everything from wheelchairs to in-home elevators. We also offer smaller devices such as handrails or grab bars. Contact us today for a complimentary in-home consultation

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