Diabetes affects approximately 8.3 percent of the US population. In individuals of advanced age, this percentage is significantly higher. Approximately 20 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 suffer from diabetes. Additionally, 40 percent of adults who are over the age of 80 deal with diabetes.
As life expectancy rates increase, it is expected that the rates of diabetes will also continue to increase as well. Elderly diabetic care is one of the responsibilities often assigned to nursing home staff. Without proper care and treatment, elderly diabetes can lead to serious side effects. It is highly important that nursing staff are well versed on proper diabetes treatment techniques.
Elderly Diabetic Health Issues
There are many dangers that accompany diabetes in the elder population. These dangers increase if diabetes is not treated properly. Elderly individuals with diabetes experience higher rates of mental and physical disabilities, as well as an increased risk of premature death.
Being elderly and diabetic increases an individual’s likelihood of suffering from other illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. Additionally, many of the common health issues that may afflict aging individuals are both more prevalent and pronounced in elderly diabetics. Elderly diabetics are at increased risk for reduced mental functioning, depression, persistent pain, harmful falls and urinary incontinence.
Nursing Home Elderly Diabetic Care
It is important that elderly diabetics keep their blood sugar level within a certain acceptable range. If a diabetic’s blood sugar level becomes too high or too low, the individual may suffer health complications. There are a number of different facets to elderly diabetic care. Nursing home staff members have several different areas of responsibility; some are guidance-based and some are more hands-on.
Nursing home staff may be expected to engage diabetic residents on these issues:
Medications: When the blood sugar level of an elderly diabetic is either too low or too high, it may be necessary to administer medication in order to bring their blood sugar back into a safe range. Both insulin shots and oral medications may be administered by nursing home staff in order to correct blood sugar level.
Nutrition: An elderly diabetic’s blood sugar level is partially dependent on their diet. In order to help keep diabetes in check, it may be the responsibility of nursing home staff to assist residents in making dietary choices. Nursing home staff may be expected to monitor the food intake of an individual and try to shape a proper diet that is also in line with the resident’s food preferences. The main dietary goals for elderly diabetics are to have them maintain a healthy body weight and limit their fat and cholesterol consumption.
Blood Sugar Monitoring: It is very important that the blood sugar level of an elderly diabetic remain stable. Nursing home staff members often need to monitor the blood sugar of residents and adjust medication and diet based on their findings. In individuals with diabetes that can be controlled simply through diet modification, blood sugar levels may be tested several times a week. In the case of elderly diabetics who require insulin, blood sugar tests may be necessary between two and four times a day.
Improper Elderly Diabetic Care
Nursing home staff may make mistakes that lead to avoidable health complications in diabetic residents. One common example is in instances where an elderly diabetic also has difficulty swallowing. In these types of cases, a resident may receive nutrients via a syrupy, carbohydrate-heavy liquid. The extra carbohydrates required by this nutrient transmission method may increase a resident’s blood sugar. Sometimes, a resident’s insulin regimen is not adjusted to compensate for these extra sugars. Health complications may come as a result of this sort of mix-up.
Diabetic Care Lawsuits
Improper nursing home diabetic care may cause premature death or avoidable suffering to a loved one. If an individual believes that their loved one may have been harmed as a result of nursing home staff negligence, they may be well served to contact a qualified attorney about filing a lawsuit.
“Diabetes Care.” American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association, n.d. Web. 23 May 2013. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/36/Supplement_1/S1.full
Schultz, Joanne. “Diabetes Management in the Nursing Home Setting: Clinical Tips.” Minnesota Department of Health . Minnesota Department of Health, 24 7 2004. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fpc/cww/cww7_04.html