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Diabetes and the elderly

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According to the NHS, diabetes affects around 3 million people in the UK today, largely affecting people in later life. It’s not uncommon for younger individuals to deal with diabetes too, but the condition is more likely to occur in older people.

With increases in life expectancy on the rise, we’re seeing more and more people being diagnosed with the disorder, particularly amongst the elderly. While numerous cases of diabetes can be avoided by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, some cases may be naturally unavoidable.

Once diagnosed, management of diabetes involves monitoring and treating the condition on a daily basis, as well as even making lifestyle changes for healthier living. However, this can be extremely challenging among older people, who may well require additional care and support.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious life-long condition concerning the breakdown of sugars in the blood. When the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to process glucose properly, blood sugar levels can get too high and cause serious health complications.

While there’s no overall cure for diabetes as such, methods for managing the condition have become easier and more advanced over recent years. Monitoring blood sugar levels, administering medication and adjusting dietary intake are all part of the ongoing treatment when living with the disorder.

There are two main types of diabetes, each caused by different things and requiring different ways of treating and managing them properly.

  • Type 1 diabetes is basically an autoimmune issue, where the immune system erroneously attacks insulin-producing cells. About 10% of all people with diabetes have this form.
  • Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes. This is caused by the body either not producing enough insulin, or the insulin doesn’t work properly. Type 2 diabetes can be effectively managed with a healthy lifestyle and diet. However, it’s still necessary to use medication if blood sugar levels get too high.

If left unmanaged, either of these types of diabetes can lead to further health problems – a particular cause for concern in elderly people who may be more susceptible to illness. That’s why it’s vital to ensure that patients are able to keep on top of their diabetic requirements, whether on their own or with a carer’s assistance.

How older people are affected

Diagnosing diabetes becomes difficult in later life, as many of the common signifiers can often be masked by other changes that come naturally with age. Symptoms like increased fatigue, weakened vision and weight loss can end up, therefore, being overlooked.

This means that detecting the disorder in older people – along with devising and carrying out treatments – requires a more flexible and innovative approach. With children and younger adults, dietary advice and improved exercise routines can be implemented quite easily. However, the situation for older people may prove to be more complex.

Physical impairments, increased frailty and vulnerability to other illnesses all pose as stumbling blocks to diabetic treatments. Adapting to a different diet or trying to increase exercise can raise difficulties. On top of that, cases of weaker mental faculties could make it even more difficult to self-manage the condition.

Each individual case of diabetes should be dealt with independently, ensuring the right treatment and plan of action is suitable for the person. Keeping on track with a certain regimen may require a caregiver – whether a family member or professional care worker – to help carry out various supporting tasks.

Providing care that works

For someone living alone, managing their diabetes can be a difficult task, requiring a multidisciplinary care worker to provide assistance. Regular care visits or even round-the-clock live-in care can be a vital lifeline for elderly people living with health complications.

This not only helps to keep your loved one feeling well and looked after, it also gives you the peace of mind that their condition is being monitored and dealt with in an appropriate manner.

At SureCare, we offer truly flexible services to suit your specific needs, with care workers available to meet your unique requirements and routines on a regular basis.

To find SureCare services in your area, go to our Find A Branch page and get in touch with your local team. Alternatively, you can send a general enquiry to enquiries@surecare.co.uk and we can point you in the right direction.