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Diabetic Home Care Tips: Creating a Safe Home Environment

Picture credit to nytimes blog 2009
Diabetes can cause health complications, but people can stay safely in their homes with proper care and home modifications. 

Diabetes' effect on Hearing

The National Institute of Health states hearing loss is twice as often in people with diabetes.  In addition, people with pre-diabetes can have a hearing loss of almost 30% compared to those with normal blood sugar levels.

Simple sounds, such as from a telephone, a doorbell, or a smoke alarm, can become difficult and sometimes impossible to hear, leading to dangerous situations.  Fortunately, some devices can address all of these issues.  Doorbells, telephones, and smoke/fire alarms can be connected to a bright, flashing strobe light that immediately alerts the homeowner.  Smoke alarms can even connect to a vibrating pillow, a device that can shake a bed or a pocket buzzer. Also, smoke detectors emit a loud, low, mixed-pitch sound.

Diabetes' effect on nerve damage

Long-term exposure to high glucose levels can damage the nerves that send messages to the brain (diabetic neuropathy), ultimately causing the nerve not to conduct impulses effectively.  One of the results of high levels of glucose over a long period is a painful, burning, or stinging feeling in certain parts of your body, particularly your feet.  And since the nerves do not function well, the ability to sense or “feel” your feet can be lost and your muscles may not work as well.  The simple act of walking can become quite painful and challenging.  This change in feeling puts you at risk of falling and tripping, one of the most common reasons seniors are seen in emergency rooms.

Creating a safe home environment involves clearing clutter and making home modifications.  Trip hazards must be removed from walking areas.  The use of throw rugs should be eliminated, or the rugs should be securely taped down or affixed to the flooring so that they do not roll or curl up (which leads to tripping).  Ensure that stair treads and all floor surfaces are made of non-skid, non-slip materials.  Glossy surfaces should be avoided due to their slippery nature.  It is wise to install no/low thresholds (such at doorways and with a walk-in shower) and to avoid stairway use by installing a ramp, where possible.  Many ramps are currently on the market, including modular, easy-to-install ones.

Diabetes' effect on Vision

Diabetes can weaken and damage the small blood vessels in the retina of your eye (diabetic retinopathy).  When these blood vessels become damaged, fluid can leak from them, causing swelling in the central part of the retina called the macula.  The macula is part of the eye that provides clear, sharp vision, and this swelling can cause the vision to become blurry, making it hard for the eye to focus and see clearly.

The same holds for glaucoma and cataracts, which can cause vision problems.  40% of people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from glaucoma, and 60% have a greater chance of developing cataracts. While there is treatment for these conditions, diabetic retinopathy can severely restrict mobility in the home.

Some of the safety precautions recommended for nerve damage also apply to vision problems, such as non-slip floor surface materials and eliminating throw rugs.  In addition, those who have sight problems can have trouble determining when entering different rooms as they walk through the home.  Contrasting flooring colors between rooms move from one room to another or through a hall much easier to navigate.  Similarly, no/low thresholds, elimination of stairs, lighted face plates for switches, touch lamps, and special telephones with large dials are also helpful modifications.

Ezra Home Care is proud to offer Diabetic Care Program to our clients. Contact us to find out more information about our Diabetic Care Program.

Creating a safe home environment that allows "aging in place" is essential to just about everybody, whether they have diabetes or not. Ninety percent of Americans age 60 and older choose to stay right where they are, according to 20 years of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

See also: "Bathroom Remodel for Seniors."
See also "Inexpensive Ideas for Aging in Place" Inexpensive Ideas for Aging in Place."

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Founded in 2008, Ezra Home Care offers live-in home care, 24-hour care, and hourly senior care.
All our caregivers are state-certified and provide services like personal carehousekeepingcompanionship, 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.

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