Diabetes is very common among older people. Around 1 in 6 people over the age of 65 have diabetes, rising to 1 in 5 over the age of 85.
That means that many people who receive in-home care have diabetes. It’s vitally important, then, that the care is provided by people who understand this complex condition and know how to manage it well.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a serious condition that affects the whole body and can significantly reduce quality of life and life expectancy.
It happens when your body can’t maintain a healthy amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Glucose is a sugar found in carbohydrates like bread, pasta, fruit, milk, yogurt and many other foods. Normally, the body converts this glucose into energy using a hormone called insulin.
With diabetes, your body can’t convert this glucose into energy anymore. That could be because you’ve stopped producing insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because you’re not making enough of it for your body’s needs (type 2 diabetes). Instead, the glucose builds up in your bloodstream, causing high blood sugar. If it’s not treated well, diabetes can lead to long-term health complications.
Treatment for diabetes
Diabetes treatment aims to keep your blood sugar at a normal level (or as close as possible). That might involve:
- Losing weight so that the insulin you’re making is sufficient for your body
- Exercising to manage your weight and improve your insulin sensitivity
- Taking medications to improve your sensitivity to insulin
- Taking insulin injections to lower your blood glucose.
Diabetes treatment can be a delicate balancing act. You’re aiming to lower your blood glucose to avoid the problems of high blood sugar – but not too far because you don’t want to trigger a hypo (low blood sugar).
Complications of diabetes
It’s very important to manage your blood sugars well because, over time, diabetes can cause serious complications including:
- Heart attacks and stroke – 4 times more common in people with diabetes
- Blindness – diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia
- Kidney failure – 3 times more common in people with diabetes
- Amputations – 15 times more likely in people with diabetes
- Depression and anxiety – experienced by 30% of people with diabetes.
Diabetes can also make you more prone to infections and slower to recover from illnesses. It also delays wounds healing, an important factor if you’ve had surgery.
Living with diabetes
With careful management of your blood sugars, exercise levels and medications, you can live an active and enjoyable life with diabetes. Just ask Cathy Freeman, Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Marcia Hines and James Earl Jones.
Focused Health Care’s diabetes nursing service
Good care matters though. Diabetes is a complex condition and you need people who understand how to help you live well with it – people who understand the interrelationships between food, exercise and insulin and who check regularly for any problems with your eyes, feet or kidneys.
Focused Health Care is run by Registered Nurses who draw on the expertise of a Diabetes Nurse Practitioner to create a diabetes management plan for you.
Our care workers and Registered Nurses then come to your home to:
- Help you understand your condition so you feel more in control
- Monitor your blood glucose levels
- Help you get your supplies through the National Diabetes Services Scheme
- Manage your food
- Ensure you take the right medication at the right time
- Give you your insulin injections (if you don’t want to do your own injections)
- Manage any wounds
- Treat any infections and monitor their impact on your blood sugars
- Arrange other diabetes-related services such as regular eye and foot checks.
Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses are highly trained health professionals. We know what to look out for and how to respond. That level of care helps you stay in the best possible health, reducing the impact diabetes has on your life.
If you need help to manage your diabetes at home, you may be able to access this service through your NDIS Plan, DVA funding, MyAgedCare funds or as a private client.
Please contact us to explore your options.
All information is general in nature.