Strategies for Diabetes Management
Maintaining proper diabetes management for members of your senior living community is about more than just prescribing the right medications. While there are several choices for medication to control diabetes, from pills to insulin pumps, there are also several strategies that you can implement across your long-term care facility in order to ensure that your residents are staying as healthy as possible.
Strategy #1: Check the Kitchen
The foods you provide to the seniors living in your community can have a big impact on their ability to control their diabetes. While you want to offer treats for the seniors who are able to have them, check your kitchen to be sure that you’re offering diabetes-friendly meals. This might include:
- Providing sugar-free dessert options any time there’s a sugar-filled dessert on the cart.
- Providing fewer simple carbs, like bread and pasta, at the average dinner. This can be as simple as making sure there’s not a bread basket on the table or as complicated as checking the dishes that are offered at each meal.
- Offering healthy snacks at convenient times. The best snacks include protein, rather than simple carbs, and will help keep blood sugar levels consistent.
- Including healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, and avocados, as part of your diet plan for all seniors.
Note that even seniors with diabetes may be able to enjoy sweets in moderation, and they shouldn’t erase carbohydrates from their diet entirely. Pay attention to an overall healthy eating plan to help improve quality of life and diabetes management.
Strategy #2: Keep Your Community Active
What opportunities for regular physical activity do you provide throughout your community? While you have residents who aren’t as mobile as others, there are options for making exercise–which can help manage blood sugar – available for most of your community’s residents. Try some of these ideas:
- Make sure that walking trails around your facility or through your gardens are well-maintained. Make plans to take residents out or encourage them to go in groups.
- Do you have a swimming pool? Swimming is a great aerobic exercise that’s easy on the joints.
- Encourage seniors to take part in exercise classes. Pick up some videos to add to your library or bring in instructors at specific dates and times. This can include aerobics, yoga, and more.
- Provide strength training opportunities, including both light weights and body weight exercises. Some kinds of strength training are possible even for patients in wheelchairs!
Keeping the seniors in your community active is a critical part of maintaining their health and encouraging them to enjoy a great quality of life as they age. For patients with diabetes, building strength and endurance can also help maintain blood glucose levels.
Strategy #3: Set Reminders for Medications and Glucose Checks
Are seniors in your community responsible for taking care of their own glucose monitoring, or is that a service that’s provided for them? What about medications? It’s important that individuals with diabetes have regular blood sugar monitoring and that they remember to take their medications on time. Make sure to issue reminders to help make it easier to take care of this critical responsibility. If nurses are in charge of administering medications or checking blood glucose levels, make sure that they do so at the same time every day. If a patient’s medication is forgotten or their blood sugar creeps too high, the results could be catastrophic.
Strategy #4: Vaccinate
For adults with diabetes, flu and pneumonia vaccines are critical to maintaining health. Due to the high potential for complications from these illnesses, it’s vital to ensure that they are avoided if at all possible. Vaccination can help keep seniors with diabetes safer and prevent them from developing the flu or pneumonia–and if they catch it anyway, they might have a less severe case that will help reduce potential complications.
Strategy #5: Create a Schedule
Medications and glucose checks aren’t the only things that need to happen on a schedule! For seniors, in particular, keeping to a schedule makes it easier to remember when things are supposed to happen and ensures that they’ll take care of those things on time. From making exercise a part of the daily schedule to putting snacks on the schedule to make sure that blood sugar levels are maintained throughout the day, keeping to a schedule will prevent seniors from forgetting those important health management tactics. If caregivers change regularly, make sure there are posted schedules and that new members of the staff know to adhere to them whenever possible.
Strategy #6: Conduct Health Screenings
Diabetes is trouble enough. Unfortunately, it brings with it a wide range of potential health complications. Make sure that seniors in your community have their feet examined on a regular basis to check for poor circulation and signs of infection that could prove dangerous. Encourage them to take advantage of dental visits at least twice a year to prevent widespread dental problems. Blood pressure and cholesterol should also be checked on a regular basis, especially in patients with diabetes. Regular health screenings will benefit every resident in your facility, but for patients with diabetes, early detection of potential health problems is critical.
Need Additional Help Learning How to Manage Your Seniors’ Diabetes?
Mac’s LTC Pharmacy Solutions offers education clinics that will help increase knowledge about how to handle diabetes and how you can benefit the residents of your community. We’ll come train your staff in person, hold an online webinar, or look for another solution that will help make your community the gold standard in handling the needs of your diabetic residents.