The Washington Post had an article on the growing diabetic population in nursing homes. Despite the fact that up to 25% of nursing home residents have diabetes, a study published in Diabetes Care determined many diabetic nursing home residents are not getting appropriate care according to the standards proposed by the American Diabetic Association. The study revealed while 98% of diabetic nursing home residents had their blood glucose monitored, only 38% met their short-term glucose goals.
One of the problems facing nursing home residents with diabetes is the lack of specific guidelines set forth to care for elderly people with diabetes. According to Helaine Resnick, director of research at the Institute for the Future of Aging Services for the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, most of the glucose control standards are intended for younger people and the needs of an elderly nursing home resident with a cognitive impairment may be substantially different.
“Diabetes medications are designed to lower glucose levels, which can prevent complications from developing in diabetic people, But, when you take medicines to lower blood glucose, it can go too low, which can be extremely dangerous, especially for older adults,” Resnick said. It’s difficult to find “the appropriate balance between keeping sugars low with the risk of keeping it too low,” she added.
Both Resnick and Paul Strumph, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, recommend active family involvement when developing an individualized care plan for diabetic seniors. “Families have to be very involved, and the communication needs to be ongoing because people’s values can change,” added Resnick.
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