Seniors diagnosed with diabetes later in life face unique challenges due to the natural process of aging. Most seniors have limited financial resources, experience a decline in cognitive ability, become less mobile, and rely more on others for care and transportation.
The importance of complying with with diet and medication
Noncompliance with a diabetic regimen of proper diet, exercise and medication runs high in senior diabetics. Learning new lifestyle behaviors and incorporating a new way of eating may be met with resistance from senior diabetics. They have led their lives in a certain manner for decades and often do not embrace change, especially when it comes to food consumption. Seniors have their favorite foods, and if appetite is already an issue due to other disease processes or simple aging, caregivers may be more willing to allow the senior to eat whatever they want.
As seniors age, cognitive decline does not allow them to process information as quickly. Confusion over which foods carry a high glycemic index, what time blood sugar should be checked, what the readings mean, how much insulin to take or even how to administer the insulin, can result in serious health issues in seniors with cognitive impairment. A caregiver should closely monitor the senior diabetic for compliance with diet and medication.
Seniors and exercise
After age 75, 50 percent of all women and one out of every three men are inactive. Exercise to keep weight off and improve circulation is key to warding off more serious complications of diabetes, but arthritis, surgeries on joints and frequent falls can limit a senior’s ability and desire to participate in a regular, moderate exercise program.
Seniors who have vision difficulties may no longer drive and face challenges in getting to all doctor appointments, including those involving diabetic preventative care. Some communities offer free public transportation to seniors.
Diabetes care on a fixed income
Fixed income seniors face a difficult time affording all the diabetic supplies needed to manage their disease. Medicare offers reimbursement for much of the supplies, but seniors may try to stretch the supply by skipping blood glucose monitoring or reusing syringes. Proper nutrition may also be compromised by finances.