Diabetes in the Nursing Home
Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is quite prevalent in the elderly population of the United States. Upwards of 24 percent of residents in nursing homes are afflicted with a form of diabetes. Residents with diabetes require special care and treatment while in a nursing home, and if they do not receive such care, it is a sign of nursing home abuse. With an individualized diabetes care plan, proper management, diet, exercise, and insulin therapy or high blood glucose treatments, diabetes can be controlled.
General Diabetes Information
Diabetes has two main classifications: Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. There is also a separate form of diabetes, called gestational diabetes, that can occur in pregnant women during a portion of pregnancy.
Type 1 diabetes, formerly known as juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and constitutes about 5 percent of all cases of diabetes. It is characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin, a hormone that is essential to the processing of sugars and starches into energy.
Type 2 diabetes, also known as hyperglycemia, is the most common type of diabetes and is characterized by the body’s improper use of glucose and higher than normal glucose levels in the blood. Type 2 diabetes is sometimes referred to as insulin resistance. Essentially, the body is not using the insulin it has available in a normal way, which signals the pancreas to produce more insulin to try to compensate for the perceived low glucose levels. The pancreas will continue to produce insulin until the body can reach a “normal level,” but the byproduct of this insulin production is a flood of too much insulin in the body. Monitoring blood glucose levels and maintaining a record is vital to identify problems early, and a doctor may further use this information to assess the effectiveness of an individual’s diabetes care plan.
Nursing Home Residents Living with Diabetes
Residents with diabetes need to monitor their blood glucose levels, and if staffing levels in the nursing home are inadequate, it can make monitoring diabetes difficult. Nursing staff should administer testing with the resident and perform the appropriate glucose measuring protocol. Staff should also record the results in the resident’s log and note any anomalies to the proper superior, as anomalies may indicate that a change in management technique may be required, including a possible change in medications, diet, or exercise regimen.
Each diabetic resident’s diet and exercise regimen must adhere to his or her specific diabetes care plan. This care plan should be reevaluated periodically to make sure that it is the best possible course of diabetes management for the diabetic individual. Any dietary restrictions should be assessed to determine whether they are still pertinent to the successful management of the condition. Unnecessary dietary restrictions that continue for too long could actually be harmful in the long run, causing malnutrition or dehydration. Similarly, unnecessary dietary restrictions could become boring to the resident, and he or she could lose interest in his or her available food options, and could even quit eating.
Diabetic residents should also have their urine periodically tested for ketones. A ketone is a chemical produced when the body breaks down fat into energy because there is insufficient insulin in the blood. Ketones can accumulate in the blood and poison the body, and exercising can actually increase the number of ketones in the body. As such, a diabetic with a high level of ketones may need to have his or her exercise regimen reevaluated.
If you are concerned that your diabetic loved one is not receiving the care he or she needs in an Illinois nursing home, please contact The Rooth Law Firm today online or at (847) 869-9100.
American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Information
American Diabetes Association, Checking for Ketones
BD Medical Technology Company, Special Care Issues for Older Adults with Diabetes
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Data for Diabetes Fast Facts, Nursing Home Care