OCBC Silver Years

How to Improve Your Life as an Older Diabetic Adult

Are you a caregiver caring for an older diabetic patient or a diabetic patient yourself? Read on to find out more about how you can achieve a better quality of life despite being a diabetic patient. Living with diabetes is a life-changing experience. Being diagnosed with diabetes affects your diet and administration of medication will be part of your daily routine. We have consolidated some expert tips from our nurses on how to improve the quality of life of a diabetic patient.

Why is the quality of care for a diabetic patient important?

Quality of care improves the quality of life for the patient. Many older adults with diabetes are usually diagnosed later because of the lack of awareness of warning symptoms. This late diagnosis indicates that the condition is at an advanced stage. Advanced stage diabetes requires a higher level of care from caregivers and diabetic patients themselves. After the diagnosis of diabetes, it is important to know the best way to manage the condition so you can achieve a sense of normalcy and routine in your life.

Nutrition for diabetic patients

It is important for older diabetic patients to take note of their dietary choices. All older adults with diabetes have to undergo a nutritional assessment upon diagnosis. The nutritional assessment should include a nutrition plan and it should be individualised and catered to suit the patients’ preference, culture, religion and eating routine. This will ensure that the patient will still be able to gain some sense of normalcy in their life despite being a diabetic patient.

Nutrition tips from a Jaga-Me nurse

  1. Ensure that meal plan includes sufficient intake of essential nutrition e.g. fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. Seek advice from a professional dietician for a personalised meal plan.
  2. Do not skip meals, this is to prevent the fluctuations of sugar level, which might result in higher levels of lipids that are associated with higher cholesterol levels. With higher cholesterol level, the risk of heart disease increases for the diabetic patient.
  3. Ensure that meals times coincide with medication administration time, this is to reduce the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar – may lead to loss of consciousness or death).
  4. Some older adults might have issues with swallowing. Ensure that you get advice from a doctor or nurse. Alternatively, you can get an assessment from a speech therapist.

Things to look out for diabetic patients

  • Hypoglycaemia (Low Blood Sugar)
  • Hypoglycaemia happens when the medication helps to control the sugar level in your blood too well, resulting in a more than the desired drop in sugar levels. It is important to recognise the signs and symptoms of hypoglycaemia and treat it promptly as it could lead to fainting or even death.

Here are some signs to look out for:
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Faintness
  • Headaches
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures
How to manage hypoglycaemia?
  • Recognise the symptoms early and treat it fast.
  • Take sugary liquids (e.g. Milo, Horlicks or any soft drinks) – liquids can be absorbed faster.
  • Take glucose pills (2 or 3 dextrosol)
  • Patients with diabetes are still able to live a relatively normal life. It is important to manage your condition – follow your medication routine as advised by your doctor, ensure that you have a balanced diet and exercise regularly.

Exercise tips

  1. Do a physical assessment with your doctor before engaging in any physically intense exercise.
  2. Ensure that you take into consideration your medication regimen to your exercise timing and type of activity. This is to prevent fainting due to low blood sugar.
  3. For patients with mobility issues or have co-morbidities (two different chronic illness e.g. stroke and diabetes), you should consult with a professional occupational therapist, a doctor or a nurse on the appropriate physical activity.

Source: Jaga-Me Home Care. This article is co-created with International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
Reproduced with permission. View orginal source.

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