Caregivers Help To Monitor Diabetic Symptoms
November 14, 2017
On November 14th, World Diabetes Day will be staged, and this year's focus is on women and diabetes, and the right to a healthy future for everyone. November is also Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, so the present time is a good one for everyone to consider the widespread effect diabetes has on the world population, as well as what can be done to prevent, monitor, and treat the symptoms of that disease. Home caregivers are especially aware of the effects of diabetes since many people requiring home care are afflicted by the disease.
There are currently more than 30 million people in the U.S. suffering from diabetes, with approximately 1.5 million new cases diagnosed every single year. The percentage is especially high among seniors since more than one in four people over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with diabetes. It is listed as the 7th leading cause of deaths in this country, with more than 300,000 fatalities occurring annually which are attributable to diabetes in some way. Because of its extraordinary prevalence, especially among the elderly population, home caregivers are especially alert to the symptoms of the disease, so it can be diagnosed and treated.
Monitoring Symptoms of Diabetes
The primary concern of any program which attempts to monitor diabetes is in controlling the level of glucose in the bloodstream. High levels of glucose in the blood can cause all kinds of health complications, and these should be avoided if at all possible. With that in mind, home caregivers can help a patient who has been diagnosed with the disease by carefully noting glucose levels right in the home setting. There are a couple easy ways to do that, the first of which is to use a reagent strip, and the second combines that strip test with a glucose meter.
The really useful thing about glucose monitoring is that it can provide information that can be used to identify patterns which affect glucose levels. For instance, by regularly testing glucose levels after meals, it can be determined which types of foods cause glucose levels to increase to undesirable levels. Similarly, by testing after exercise or a walk in the park, it can be seen what kinds of desirable impact these activities have on controlling glucose levels.
Types of Diabetes
There are two different types of diabetes, commonly referred to as Type I Diabetes and Type II Diabetes. Type I is the more severe of the two variations because it requires insulin treatments regularly, and that requires conscientious attention at home so that serious complications don't occur. Type II diabetes can be managed without insulin treatment, and many of the symptoms can even be reversed by managing diet, losing weight, and living a healthy lifestyle.
A senior living at home with Type I diabetes normally requires a skilled caregiver or knowledgeable family member to assist with the regular insulin injections which must be administered. If these are not attended to at the prescribed intervals, some serious consequences may result, including loss of consciousness for the patient. A home caregiver can also help with managing Type II Diabetes, however, by preparing healthy, low-sugar meals which include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber content.
The Role of the Caregiver
One of the most important ways that a caregiver can contribute to diabetes management in the home setting is by helping to educate the elderly person suffering from the disease. Assuming that a senior is not also suffering from mental decline, it's much better for the person to have an understanding of diabetes, and how it affects their body and their health. This usually has the desirable effect of making them feel empowered and willing to voluntarily help themselves with the management of symptoms. When someone is simply told to do something, they are often more reluctant and resistant, even knowing that it's for their own good.
Customizing treatment to the individual also plays a major role in caregiver handling of diabetes symptoms. For instance, a fragile 75-year old woman may not be able to participate in vigorous exercise, but can certainly be active in other ways. Caregivers can also find ways of making meals at least somewhat appealing to their charges without including foods which run counter to good health. In cases where a senior's favorite foods might be harmful to their health, a frank discussion may help them to understand the necessity of making a change.
Seniors who are overweight are especially vulnerable to the effects of diabetes because that makes it harder for the body to manage blood sugar. The caregiver can discuss this with an elderly person, emphasizing the positive effects that losing even a little bit of weight would have on overall health. This is usually much more effective than dwelling on the negative effects of not losing weight and can reduce the level of stress that a senior might feel in connection with diabetes management.