Caring for a Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic Senior

Many seniors who live at home and receive in-home care live with Type 2 Diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Type 2 Diabetes accounts for 90-95% of Diabetes cases in the US. That means in 2018  more than 10 million seniors were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Having an at-home caregiver can be extremely valuable in caring for a newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic Senior.

Symptoms and Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes in Diabetic Seniors

Seniors who are overweight are typically considered at the greatest risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Family history can also play a role. Older women who suffered from Gestational Diabetes while pregnant; also seem to be at higher risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes risk increases with age, as seniors are generally physically less active. The body naturally builds more insulin resistance. Symptoms of the disease can be difficult to recognize, as many mimic the effects of aging. They include:

  • Increased hunger, thirst, and urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Infections that are slow to heal

The Two Types of Diabetes in Seniors 

You often hear about Type 2 Diabetes in Seniors, but rarely about Type 1 Diabetes. That is because Type 1 Diabetes (“Juvenile Diabetes”) and Type 2 Diabetes (“Adult-Onset Diabetes”) are quite different diseases. Many advocates suggest changing the names of  Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes to reduce confusion between the diseases.

  • In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy.
  • Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age. It most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood. But type 2 diabetes in children is rising. Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of diabetes—90 to 95 out of 100 people.

In type 2 diabetes, the body can’t use insulin the right way. This is insulin resistance. As type 2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is insulin deficiency.

Caring for a Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic Senior

After a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, it’s important to develop a care plan that the older adult can follow. A medical professional may not immediately prescribe medications, preferring to take a nutritional and activity-based approach.

A nutritionist can help develop a healthy meal plan to help lower blood glucose levels. Your doctor may recommend a program of exercise and a healthy diet too. A home care aide can be an essential part of the care plan, providing assistance with meal preparation and planning, medication reminders and management, as well as light housekeeping.

Housekeeping may not seem like a logical part of the care plan. Still, many seniors, especially those feeling fatigued, are common in Type 2 Diabetics. Report that performing household chores leaves them with too little energy to get the recommended exercise. 

In addition, many medications prescribed for Type 2 Diabetics are time-sensitive. They must be taken at certain times of the day or a certain amount of time before or after meals. These schedules can become complicated, but they are important.

Meal Planning and Preparation for an Elderly Type 2 Diabetic

Seniors who receive at-home care services may have difficulty adjusting to a new diet. They may be set in their ways or prefer foods they are familiar with. Meaning they can be locked into some bad habits. The important thing to remember is moderation. Adjusting the senior’s diet too quickly or severely may produce a backlash, leading back to unhealthy habits.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that those providing care to seniors provide tools for day-to-day planning rather than focusing on reducing or eliminating specific foods. These tools may take the form of specific recipes, tips on healthier cooking. Plan guidelines as to what kinds of foods are generally better for managing blood glucose levels.

Additionally, some negotiations and compromises about diet are fine and may increase compliance. Seniors should discuss their target blood glucose levels with their medical professional, and the in-home caregiver can adjust to those expectations.

When helping seniors adjust to a new way of thinking about their diet, it’s important not to think in absolutes but rather try to minimize harm and maximize the quality of life.

For example

Dave is an 84-year-old Type 2 Diabetic whose blood glucose is reasonably good control. He also has early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. His caregiver expressed frustration that Dave refused to eat ice cream, his favorite dessert. Rather than cause more stress Dave’s medical professional suggested that it didn’t make sense to prohibit something he enjoyed completely.

As a result, his caregiver enacted a harm-reduction strategy, buying reduced-sugar ice cream while focusing on other areas to reduce overall sugar intake.

Home Care Aides Can Help Care for Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetics

Our home care aide can work with your seniors to understand the benefits of a healthier diet. A large part of the work that goes into meal planning and preparation is done so that the senior doesn’t need to put too much thought or effort into what they should or shouldn’t eat.

Plus, it can be unclear to know what kind of exercise a senior can or should do. Home care aides can motivate and encourage to stay with an exercise routine. 

In addition, should a medical professional decide to prescribe medications that help with Type 2 Diabetes, the at-home caregiver can provide medication reminders and management that keep the senior on track.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Is Your Home Care Resource for Type 2 Diabetics

Our dedicated home caregivers help with medication reminders to laundry, meal planning, and housekeeping. The dedicated professional caregivers at Home Care Powered by AUAF help seniors with Type 2 Diabetes. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out how to get started.

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