Caring for Seniors with Diabetes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As physicians and researchers learn more about COVID-19, increased information is coming to light about both the overall and long-term effects it has on the human body. This is particularly the case for individuals and seniors with diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains those with diabetes are at an increased risk for infection. This applies even more so for senior diabetic adults, making the risk of infection as well as potentially worse outcomes even greater. With that in mind, caring for a senior with diabetes during the coronavirus pandemic becomes more challenging, thus their need for greater precautions and protections against COVID-19 infection.
Diabetes and COVID-19
While research and scientific findings continue to be collected regarding COVID-19 and diabetes, most experts agree that diabetics not engaging in regular care may face worse complications from a COVID-19 infection.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) agrees that those who fail to manage their diabetes and blood sugar are in the higher-risk group for complications. When other ongoing conditions such as heart disease or lung disease exist alongside diabetes, the odds of a COVID-19 infection increase due to a compromised immune system. Additionally, recent studies have shown those with diabetes who are infected with COVID-19 tend to have longer hospitalizations compared to other patients.
Worse yet, those with diabetes who are infected with COVID-19 are at increased risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood) and sepsis (widespread infection in the body which can result in organ failure). When diabetic ketoacidosis occurs, fluid and electrolyte levels become difficult to manage and maintain, which also makes the treatment of sepsis more challenging. Diabetics have also been found to be at greater risk for other complications related to COVID-19 such as kidney damage, organ failure, and pneumonia.
Avoiding the Risk of COVID-19 and Severe Illness
For seniors with diabetes, avoiding the risk of infection from COVID-19—as well as the possibility of severe illness—begins with monitoring and managing diabetes carefully. Those with diabetes-related health issues are at an even greater risk than healthy diabetics.
Here are some strategies to help your senior with diabetes avoid COVID-19 infection:
- ● Stay safer at home. Staying at home means less potential exposure to the coronavirus.
- ● Regularly monitor blood sugar levels. Some studies have indicated more frequent monitoring, but certainly the maintenance of proper blood glucose levels, is significant in preventing serious complications if your senior with diabetes becomes infected with COVID-19.
- ● Encourage regular hand washing with soap and water (20 seconds minimum). Have alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60 percent alcohol minimum) available when soap and water are not.
- ● Quarantine when necessary. Isolate your senior with diabetes from those who are ill.
- ● Encourage masks. Mask up for your senior with diabetes and advise anyone who comes in contact with him or her to do so as well.
- ● Keep them up-to-date medically. Ensure your senior with diabetes keeps doctors’ appointments, using telehealth options when available.
- ● Encourage regular exercise. Join your senior for a socially-distanced walk around the neighborhood or for backyard yoga or tai chi.
- ● Maintain a healthy diet. Be sure your senior with diabetes has access to a healthy diet including foods low in sugar, lean proteins, and green, leafy vegetables. Avoid foods high in fat, sugar, and carbohydrates, in addition to fried foods. Have simple carbohydrates such as hard candy, fruit juice, and honey for blood sugar lows.
- ● If a change in glucose readings occurs, consult your senior’s healthcare team and make the recommended adjustments. Do not attempt to adjust insulin or medications without the advice of your senior’s physician.
- ● Keep a 30-day supply of insulin or medication, as well as extra strips and glucometer batteries on hand for your senior with diabetes.
- ● If you use a home health team for assistance in caring for your beloved senior, keep the apprised of any changes in your loved one’s health.
- ● If you suspect your senior with diabetes has been exposed to or has been infected by the coronavirus, contact his or her physician immediately for guidance.
Call on the Team at Nursing Plus of Broward to Help
Caring for seniors with diabetes can be accomplished successfully, even in the age of COVID-19. The understanding, professional assistance staff at Nursing Plus of Broward can help you and your loved ones.
The Nursing Plus of Broward team includes professional caregivers from Margate, FL, and the surrounding areas, registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), therapists, home health aides, and medical social workers, as well as physicians, available for house calls as needed. Call or contact Nursing Plus of Broward today and get the quality care your loved one needs.