It is known that around 25% of individuals living in aged care facilities have diabetes. Care of the elderly with diabetes is quite complex as there are many co-morbidities associated with having lived with the disease for a number of years. The most common form, Type 2 diabetes, affects 85-90% of those with diabetes, and is much more likely to occur in those over 65 years of age. Of those who are diagnosed with diabetes, most will eventually require glucose lowering medications and over half will need insulin to assist with their health management. Type 2 diabetes is almost always impacted by lifestyle factors such as quality of diet, exercise, obesity, smoking, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Unfortunately ageing can compound the other risk factors for diabetes because bodily processes such as insulin production are not functioning as well as they do in younger people.
What does this mean for those living with and/or caring for those with diabetes?
Helping individuals achieve good quality of life is the most important factor in supporting those living with diabetes in the later years. This will include managing blood glucose levels but more broadly, ensuring that there is access to good nutrition, ample physical activity and appropriate medication (if necessary). Stress levels should be closely monitored and other medical conditions that can negatively impact on an individual’s diabetes need to be well controlled. There are many health complications that can occur as a result of diabetes that is not managed properly. These can include, kidney failure, eye-sight problems, low blood supply to the legs, dental problems, heart attack/failure, stroke, skin disorders, gastro intestinal complaints as well as increased risk of mental health conditions and Alzheimer’s.
For optimal management of diabetes in the elderly, it is recommended that individuals are given an annual medical screening to determine and minimise the risk of complications and other diabetes related conditions. They will also require access to a healthy diet, regular exercise and good mental health care should they require it. This will enable those in their later years with diabetes to live their lives to the fullest in the best possible health.
At Homestyle we support many residents living with diabetes. For more information about diabetes management please visit Diabetes Australia. If you would like to arrange a visit to one of our homes click here.