Managing diabetes can be difficult on the best of days, but when a senior is ill, the task becomes even more difficult. Illness can cause a person’s blood sugar levels to rise and can even cause more serious problems that can result in coma. When a senior with diabetes is ill, family caregivers and senior care providers need to take special care and precautions to prevent severe complications.
How Illness Affects Diabetes
When a person is ill, their body is under stress. Stress causes the release of certain hormones to help the body fight illness. Unfortunately, these hormones also cause blood sugar levels to go up and reduce the effectiveness of insulin. That makes blood sugar levels harder to control than usual. In Type 1 diabetics, uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to a dangerous condition called ketoacidosis, which can cause a diabetic coma. People with Type 2 diabetes are also at risk for coma as a result of a condition called hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic coma, which is similar to ketoacidosis.
While there’s no need to call the doctor every time your senior parent gets a cold, but there are certainly times when a call to the doctor is warranted, such as:
- If your parent has been ill for a few days and doesn’t seem to be getting better.
- You aren’t certain how to care for your parent.
- Your parent has elevated ketone levels.
- Vomiting or diarrhea occurs for longer than 6 hours.
- Your parent’s glucose levels are above 240.
- Symptoms of ketoacidosis are present, such as breath that smells like fruit, confusion, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps, or loss of consciousness.
What to Do
There are several things that family caregivers and senior care providers can do to help diabetic seniors through an illness. Some of those things are:
- Have your parent check their blood sugar levels every four hours.
- If your parent has Type 1 diabetes, check for ketones in their urine.
- Make sure your parent drinks plenty of liquids.
- Remind your parent to take their diabetes medications.
- Take your parent’s temperature regularly.
If your parent needs to take an over the counter medication for symptoms of their illness, such as a cough medicine, check with the doctor or pharmacist for medications that do not contain sugar.
During times of illness, it can be comforting to know that someone is checking on your senior parent during the day when you cannot be there. A senior care provider can stay with your parent and help them by reminding them to take their medications and bringing them liquids often. They can also help your parent to take their temperature and report any concerns to you.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Senior Care in Pinellas Park, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At Assisting Hands Home Care Today! 727-748-4211.
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