Would you recognize diabetes in seniors or just chalk it up to the effects of aging? Elderly caregivers are sure to become concerned when an elderly person’s health or behavior changes drastically or suddenly. Caregivers that are just getting acquainted with the effects of aging may not realize that the signs they are seeing, are actually symptoms of diabetes in seniors, or some other disease that affects the aging population. What should elderly caregivers be looking for? How can you tell the difference between diabetes in seniors and the effects of aging?
Signs of Aging? Or Something Else?
Part of becoming an elderly caregiver requires that you begin to get familiar with common signs of aging that affect appearance, sleep, behavior, sight, hearing, mobility, and other important functions.
There’s no need to become overly alarmed if the person you care for needs to urinate more often than in the past or becomes easily confused, but these symptoms are things that caregivers should monitor and be aware of.
Diabetes in seniors is common. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 25% of elders over the age of 65 have diabetes. Diabetes can cause several problems including urinary frequency, incontinence, sleeplessness, dehydration, and increased risk of falls. Elevated blood glucose levels also cause blood thickening, which can lead to stroke. High glucose levels also weaken the immune system, which raises the risk of infection.
According to Caring People blog monitoring liquids helps discern the difference between diabetes and aging. Diabetes causes people to be chronically thirsty, but elderly people without diabetes may begin to drink fewer liquids as they age. This is an easy distinction for caregivers to take note of. Of course, drinking lots of liquids leads more frequent urination. New caregiver need to be alert so they can make the correlation between increased thirst and increased urination or incontinence.
Elderly people also sometimes have low blood sugar, which is also called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can cause mental confusion, which caregivers may confuse with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Treatment for Diabetes in Seniors Leads to Quality of Life
While we can’t stop the effects of aging, diabetes can be managed effectively in most people. Getting treatment for diabetes helps many elderly people live longer and live a better quality of life.
If you suspect that an elder may have diabetes, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with the physician. A simple blood test will tell you for certain if an elderly person’s blood glucose is too high or too low. If the blood glucose is normal, any unusual signs that pertain to frequency of urination, changes in liquid intake, and mental cognition are likely attributable to aging. If the senior receives a diagnosis of diabetes, the physician will make recommendations for dietary changes, medication, or both.
Caregiver Awareness is Key to Early Treatment of Diabetes in Seniors
A senior may not be able to communicate using words about how they are feeling. Elder caregivers are usually the first people that detect that something is wrong with the person they care for. It’s vital that caregivers make note of any physical, behavioral, or dietary changes and discuss them with medical professionals. The more that you learn about eldercare, aging, and diabetes in seniors, the better care you can give.