Dad Suffers From Diabetic Nerve Pain and Vision Problems: How Can I Keep Him Safe at Home?
Life expectancy is on the rise, but so too is the number of US citizens suffering from Type II Diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 25% of seniors have the disease, which means that many people who act as a caregiver to an elderly parent may have to face the added complication of diabetes among other age-related illnesses.
Diabetes can lead to nerve damage, decreased mobility, dexterity, vision and hearing issues. As a result, your parent may need a lot of extra support at home in order to remain safe and comfortable. Here are some ways you can go about making life for your parent with Type II Diabetes easier.
Make Changes Slowly
A diabetes diagnosis usually requires making lifestyle changes. These changes are likely to be big, and urgent, ones for your parent. However, radical or very quick changes in diet or exercise routines are not a good idea for elderly people, and could do more harm than good. Instead, gradually introduce the necessary changes in diet, exercise and insulin routines, to your mom or dad, so that they can adjust accordingly.
Even small shifts in lifestyle can make a big difference for diabetes sufferers, and once you start making changes, your parent is likely to feel the benefits and be encouraged to continue on their new healthier lifestyle path.
Apart from not being physically fit enough to make rapid changes in diet and routine, pushing a whole new regime too quickly is likely to have limited success for someone who has been used to living a certain way for a many years - especially if they feel that an adult child is interfering!
Develop a Consistent Routine
Elderly diabetes sufferers often have more complex needs than others, due to added age-related concerns. Some seniors will have a hard time adjusting to a new medication schedule, and might forget to take their pills or insulin at the right times. They may also have bad eating or exercise habits that will take some time to realign.
Developing a consistent routine with cues that will let your parent know when it is time to eat, take medication and check glucose or blood sugar levels. There are lots of useful timers and tools available, such as phone apps or special insulin pens, with reminders to help take medication at the right time.
Support your parent's new lifestyle as much as you can. You can do this by helping create new shopping lists for diabetic-friendly meals, eating the same food at mealtimes, joining them on a daily walk, and learning as much as you can about their condition so that you are well informed about their possible needs.
Make an Exercise Plan
Increasing exercise is often a big factor in reducing the symptoms of Type II Diabetes, but when it comes to seniors, it can be hard to know what is the right level of exercise.
A hobby can help distract from worries about diabetes and other conditions, and your mom or dad will be more likely to stick with an exercise regime if they are enjoying the activities that are keeping them fit.
For most seniors who don't have significant mobility issues, walking and swimming are ideal ways to exercise. Look out for exercise classes, such as yoga, that are aimed specifically at older people. Joining a group of people of a similar age might also have the added benefit of becoming a socially enjoyable outing for your parent. Playing with grandchildren or taking up a new hobby such as gardening or birdwatching are also ways that your mom or dad can get more exercise without exerting themselves too much.
Make the Home Environment Safer
Nerve damage and a general decrease in mobility can make it more difficult, and painful, for your elderly parent to move around safely at home. Combined with these issues, deteriorating vision and hearing can result in decreased awareness of the surroundings. As a result, it is therefore important to assess what fall dangers are present in your parent’s home, and to make it as easy as possible for mom or dad to move around.
- Remove or secure rugs that can cause a trip or slip hazard
- Install low thresholds at doorways and a walk-in shower
- Install ramps where possible
- Consider different colored flooring in each room to help your parent identify where they are if their vision is suffering
- Install touch lamps and a phone with a large dial or numbers
Recognize the Warning Signs
Educate yourself as much as you can about your parent's diabetes. Knowing the signals that their blood sugar levels are either too high or too low is extremely useful. These include:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent need to urinate
- Blurred vision (high blood sugar levels)
- Shaking, anxiety, weakness or irritability (low blood sugar levels)
It's also useful to know about the additional problems that older people with Type II Diabetes can face, and to check in regularly to make sure your parent isn't experiencing undiagnosed complications. Depression, hypertension, heart issues and chronic pain are all added problems that can occur for older people with diabetes, and being vigilant regarding the signs of any of these will mean that you can act quickly if other health issues arise.
Find a Support Group
A diabetes diagnosis might be overwhelming for your parent, especially in the early days, as they get their heads around the changes ahead, and the potential associated health issues. They might have lots of questions that you can't necessarily answer, or the urge to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.
Help your parent find a suitable support group to join, either in their community or online. As well as the ADA outreach program for older adults, the organization also has a Massachusetts branch that can help provide information and support.
Making contact with people who are also diabetic will have so many benefits for your elderly parent. They can create social or activity-led groups, swap advice on diet, or even hear about the benefits of giving up smoking from someone in their own age group who has done it and feels better for it.
Hire a Caregiver with Expertise in Handling Diabetes Symptoms
It is important to know that there is always additional help and support available if you or your parent feel that you are not coping with the many challenges that aging and diabetes can bring. A Home Care company with specific experience helping elderly people manage their diabetes will be able to help put a care plan in place, alleviating some of the stress and worry that you may be experiencing while coping with your mom or dad’s illness.
A qualified, experienced Home Care aide can come to your parent's home as often, or as infrequently, as you like, and will provide all the support you need to help keep your mom or dad's new lifestyle on track, including:
- Educating your parent on proper diabetic care management
- Assistance with medication management
- Personal assistance with daily activities
- Light housekeeping
- Meal preparation
- Escorting your parent to appointments
To find out how Ezra Home Care can provide the assistance your parent needs when suffering from diabetes, contact our compassionate and experienced team.
Founded in 2008, Ezra Home Care offers live-in home care,
and hourly senior care.
All our caregivers are state-certified and provide services like personal care, housekeeping, companionship, help with medication, and transportation assistance. We've spent 15 years refining our caregiver selection process to ensure families' peace of mind. Reach out for details and quotes.
or call us at 617-527-9000