Diabetic Care in Nursing Homes: What to Expect
There are nearly 37.3 million people in the United States that suffer from diabetes, and many of them are over 65. In fact, over 29% of seniors have the condition, and it is the fifth most common health condition seen in nursing facilities after high blood pressure, dementia, depression, and arthritis. As the seventh leading cause of death, however, this condition is one that must be carefully managed to prevent other long-term health issues that can interfere with longevity and quality of life.
For example, diseases involving the eyes and kidneys have been found to affect one in ten patients in the first year following a diagnosis of diabetes, and there are also increased risks of cancers, circulatory disorders, and neurological issues, among others. For these reasons, high-quality diabetic care in nursing homes is essential to provide quality of life and a greater level of physical health.
The Scope of Diabetic Care in Nursing Homes
Diabetes is a notoriously complex issue to manage since it coincides with other physical problems, including those that impair decision making and life quality such as depression and anxiety. In a nursing home environment, staff, patients, and their families must work together to help meet the needs of the patient and ensure the best quality of life possible.
The overall goal of a diabetes care plan is to balance blood sugar levels, avoiding both hyperglycemia (too much blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar). To manage this, a good care plan should be tailored to the needs of individual residents, but should include the following basics:
Monitoring of Blood Sugar Levels
At its most basic, a diabetic care plan should focus on maintaining proper blood sugar levels, keeping them within the normal range, and ensuring that there is little or no variation in levels from day to day. Caregivers typically use glucose meters to monitor daily blood sugar levels, although testing can vary depending on both the type of diabetes the resident has and the severity. For example, residents with Type 1 diabetes will require testing up to ten times per day, while those with Type 2 diabetes will be tested between meals and again before bedtime.
Medications to Control Diabetes
Many residents with diabetes will require medications to keep their blood sugar levels within a normal range. These can range from insulin injections to medications such as alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (Precose, Glyset), biguanides (Metformin), dopamine agonists (Cycloset), or DPP-4 inhibitors (Nesina, Kazano) among others to keep sugar levels stable.
A sensible diet focused on good nutrition that assists residents in maintaining a healthy body weight is an essential element of any diabetic care plan. Staff members will carefully monitor the amount of food a resident consumes, as well as control fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol to ensure a positive outcome. Medications are administered optimally with meals to assist in managing blood sugar fluctuations.
Diabetic residents require closer monitoring, due to the many complications that can arise as a result of their condition. For example, hypoglycemia can cause dizziness and problems with balance, putting diabetic residents at higher risks of falling. To offset this, some nursing home care plans will include balance training to help residents remain steadier on their feet and to reduce the chances of a fall. Falls are one of the leading causes of both nonfatal and fatal injuries for seniors, and the rate is climbing, with more than 25% of Americans over the age of 65 being affected.
Also, diabetic residents can suffer from neuropathy—a condition that causes numbness, tingling, or pain in their feet. Often, neuropathy keeps sufferers from realizing when they have been injured and also makes them more prone to bedsores. Caregivers should check the feet of their diabetic patients daily to look for injuries or other issues.
Finally, family members should be apprised of their loved one’s care plan and receive healthcare updates regularly to ensure that the plan is being followed and that their loved one continues to thrive.
Brickyard Healthcare Provides High Quality Care for Diabetic Patients
Whether your loved one with diabetes is living in a skilled nursing facility or is receiving outpatient or rehabilitative care, you want them to have the highest level of care to help them manage their condition.
At Brickyard Healthcare, we take a targeted approach to the management of diabetes with a full-spectrum care plan that includes specific nutritional guidance to keep blood sugars steady and within normal range. In addition to closely monitoring their health, we empower our residents and patients by helping them learn how to care for themselves. This includes instruction on how to care for their eyes, gums, and feet and easy ways to incorporate exercise into their lives to assist in better balance, mobility, and overall health.
If you would like to learn more about how we manage care for our diabetic patients, call us at 855-855-8113 or contact us here.