Although a growing number of young adults are developing type 2 diabetes, but risk and the effects of it on older people can’t be ignored. True, the symptoms of diabetes might at times not be detectable among the old, but if left unchecked, the accumulation of glucose in the blood can cause serious damage to nearly all the major organs of the body including kidney, heart and eyes among others. But there’s nothing to worry just yet! The good news is that with the help of an active lifestyle, dietary changes and exercises, the problem can easily be managed and help give you an extended lease of life.
Here’s looking at what exactly is diabetes, its causes and what can you do to prevent it from letting you live a healthy & happy life.
What is diabetes?
A common but serious health disorder, diabetes is a metabolic condition of having higher than normal blood sugar levels. In diabetes, the body’s ability to produce or use insulin is impaired. There are three main kinds of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes: It is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the beta cells in the pancreas the produces insulin. The damage is permanent and is often occurs in childhood.
- Type 2 diabetes: It starts as insulin resistance wherein the body can’t use insulin efficiently. Its contributing factors could be excess of weight, genetic or an underlying medical condition and often gets detected in adulthood or old age.
- Gestational diabetes: It happens due to insulin-blocking hormones produced during pregnancy. It is a temporary condition that weans off post-delivery.
Symptoms of diabetes among elderly:
Symptoms of diabetes among old people often go undetected as problem of excessive urination, lethargy or frequent hunger pangs are confused to be due to age factors. If you have an elderly person at home, do keep an eye for the following signs:
- Getting tired easily
- Frequent Hunger
- Excessive Thirst
- Sudden Weight Loss
- Frequent Urination
- Blurred vision
Elderly people with diabetes need to take special care of their health to lead a normal life. They can benefit a lot from a personalised nursing care plan for diabetes that a qualified nurse can provide them after a proper nursing diagnosis for diabetes.
An effective nursing care plan for diabetes includes:
- Regular blood sugar screenings such as:
- Glucose test – Normal blood glucose level test. Done at any time of the day.
- Fasting Glucose test – This test is done after non- consumption of food for at least 8 hours
- Oral glucose tolerance test—This test is done after fasting for all through the night and then again fasting for another 2 hours after consuming a sugar containing drink.
- HbA1C test—This test indicates your glucose level for the past 2–3 months.
- Proper Diet plan: This is an important part of nursing care plan for diabetes. The patient must consume healthy dietary options like:
● Porridge: Porridge can help control blood sugar and is an ideal option for diabetics. Even though porridge is a carbohydrate, it’s an excellent carbohydrate. Because it’s high in soluble fibre, it’s slower to digest and it won’t raise your blood sugar as much or as quickly. It’s going to work better at maintaining a healthy blood sugar level over time.
● Wholegrain Bread: Not only does this high-quality carbohydrate offer a steadier source of energy than white bread, it can also help with weight loss. The soluble fibre in oats helps to keep us feeling fuller longer. That’s important for people with type 2 diabetes, who tend to be overweight. Another whole-grain, barley isn’t as popular as oats, but there’s some evidence that barley, which is also high in soluble fibre, may also help with blood glucose control. Besides oats and barley, most whole grains are going to be a great choice for a person with diabetes.
● Broccoli, spinach and green beans: Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and green beans. These items are high in fibre and low in carbohydrates, which make them perfect for people with diabetes.
● Bananas: Resistant starch found in foods such as bananas, potatoes, grains and legumes, acts as a dietary fibre and may improve blood sugar control, supporting gut health and boosting satiety.
● Nuts: Nuts contain unsaturated fats, proteins and a range of vitamins and minerals that lower cholesterol, inflammation and insulin resistance, and are good options for diabetics.
● Bitter gourd (Karela): Bitter gourd contains an insulin-like compound called Polypeptide-p or p-insulin which has been proven to manage diabetes naturally.
● Protein rich foods: Proteins from eggs, meat, fish and chicken or from vegetarian sources like dals, paneer or gram flour help control blood sugar levels. Lentils like rajma, Kabuli chana, sabut moong, and masoor are recommended at least once daily. Studies have proven that proteins have a neutral effect on blood glucose levels.
● Amla: Amla is the fruit of the Indian gooseberry tree and is the ideal remedy to control high blood sugar levels. It also has chromium which regulates carbohydrate metabolism and helps in making your body more responsive to insulin.
- Proper Hydration
Being hydrated is crucial part of the nursing care plan for diabetes, especially if you’re managing Type 2 Diabetes since water helps in lowering blood sugar level by diluting your blood. It’s convenient to keep a bottle through which you can drink anytime of the day.
- Reduce risk of infection
Diabetic persons with delayed wound healing are at highest risk for developing infection. Correct wound care is extremely important for them as it contributes in the prevention of wound infection. Normal blood glucose levels ensure good blood circulation especially around the affected wound area. The correct administration of prescribed diabetic medications is important in stabilizing blood glucose levels. Add to that, antibiotic treatment is also important in preventing development of infection in site of a wound. This must be included in the nursing care plan for diabetes.
- Stress management
It’s normal for people to experience stress throughout their life, but for elderly diabetics it has many negative consequences. This is why, stress management is a key part of nursing care plan for diabetes. Simply put, stress is the resultant when something pushes your body to behave as if it were under attack. Sources of stress can be physical, like injury or illness. They can be mental, like problems in your marriage, work, health, or finances. Also, if you don’t understand bodily changes by health problems, one can be stressed.
- Alcohol Free lifestyle
Elderly diabetics need to stay away from alcohol. The purpose of meal management in diabetes control is monitoring a person’s carbohydrate intake, which leads to higher blood glucose levels. As Alcohol consists of carbohydrates, drinking results in slight peaking in blood glucose levels based on the amount of alcohol intake.
Add to that, alcohol interferes with liver’s release of glucose as once liver detects alcohol, it gives preference to first removing the alcohol, putting glucose production and release on hold. This lack of glucose release from the liver can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
Harmful effects of high levels of alcohol on a diabetic are as follows:
- Too much alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia, i.e., abnormally low blood glucose. It can occur immediately or up to 8 – 12 hours after drinking.
- Mixing alcohol with diabetes medication can increase risk of side effects like hypoglycemia, nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat, or sudden changes in blood pressure.
For example, FDA has a black box warning for diabetics to avoid excessive alcohol intake while taking metformin, as latter is metabolized by liver leading to fluctuating blood glucose levels.
- If a diabetic has pain due to nerve damage, alcohol can immensely increase the amount of pain felt, as drinking alcohol leads to sustained increase in activity of the nervous system, which further increases pain signaling.
- Drinking may lead to lethargy on self-care measures: Overindulging in alcohol can weaken your will to make healthy choices, making you less likely to follow your diet plans and workout routines. This can lead to spikes in your blood glucose levels, further worsening your diabetes.
Get nursing care plan for diabetes right in the comfort of home
At HealthCare atHOME, we have a team of trained and experienced nurses who are perfectly equipped to provide care for elderly diabetes with customised plans suited for their individual needs. From helping them manage their diabetes to suggesting the correct diet that would nourish the body; our professional nurses can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can get more details on nursing at home by calling our toll-free number 1800-102-4224.