Seniors who have difficulty maintaining healthy blood sugar levels must closely monitor their numbers, their activities, and what they eat each day. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) may cause fainting, memory problems, and death. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) may cause kidney, eye, nerve, and heart problems over time.
Normal Blood Sugar Levels for Seniors
When carbohydrates are consumed, blood sugar levels rise as the carbohydrates go into the bloodstream. The body releases insulin from the pancreas in response to these carbohydrates, which allows the cells to use the carbohydrates for energy.
Seniors with hypoglycemia may have released too much insulin or gone too long without eating. When the body doesn’t have enough energy to function, it quickly shuts down. Blood sugar levels below 70 mg/dL are considered hypoglycemic levels.
Seniors who have hyperglycemia often have diabetes. In this case, their bodies may no longer produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or effectively use insulin for energy (type 2 diabetes). Because high blood sugar levels can damage the different organs in the body over time, it’s important to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. Normal ranges of blood sugar levels are between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating meals. The American Diabetes Association recommends seniors have blood glucose levels of less than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating.
Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of at-home care. Des Moines families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
Checking Blood Sugar Levels
Seniors with hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia need to continually monitor their blood sugar with home blood glucose monitors. These monitors may be designed for single use or continual use. With a single-use monitor, a senior places a test strip into the monitor and then pricks his or her finger with a lancet. The blood is placed on the test strip, and the monitor gives a blood glucose reading within seconds. Seniors who have a difficult time maintaining their blood sugar levels may need to use continual blood glucose monitors. These monitors continually check the blood sugar and alert the user if levels are too high or too low.
No matter how blood sugar levels are checked, your loved one should keep a log of his or her fasting, pre-meal, and post-meal numbers. The doctor can then use these numbers to formulate a treatment plan that works best for your loved one.
If you usually help your loved one manage his or her health but you need a break now and then, consider having a professional caregiver take over for you. Des Moines respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.
Maintaining Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Your loved one can keep his or her blood sugar levels stable by exercising, eating healthy, and taking medications or insulin as prescribed by his or her doctor. Here are a few tips for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels:
- Eat a healthy breakfast containing fiber and protein within an hour of waking up to prevent hypoglycemia.
- Always eat healthy fats, protein, and fiber with each meal, as this slows the digestive process and the number of carbohydrates released into the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
- Exercise regularly to burn off extra blood sugar.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks, such as soda, sports drinks, and juice, as these quickly raise blood sugar levels.
- Keep a supply of hard candy, juice boxes, or glucose tablets on hand in case of low blood sugar crashes. If your loved one has hypoglycemia, he or she should consume a sugary snack or drink as soon as possible and then recheck his or her levels.
A professional caregiver with training in nutrition and exercise can be an outstanding source of support for your loved one. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust elderly home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.