Type 2 Diabetes in Nursing Homes

Type 2 diabetes, or hyperglycemia, is the most common type of diabetes found in nursing home residents.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 25% of nursing home residents live with a form of diabetes.  Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes the body to become insulin resistant, which means that glucose is not properly broken down within the body.  This results in high glucose levels in the blood, which can have serious health impacts on older individuals.  Residents with diabetes are at an increased risk of suffering from high glucose-related harm while living at the nursing home, including accidental falls, incontinence, and untreated urinary tract infections.  Residents with diabetes should always wear medical identification, and nursing staff should be aware of which residents have Type 2 diabetes.

High Blood Glucose Levels

High blood glucose levels can have a wide array of impacts on an elderly person.  In particular, having high blood glucose levels commonly triggers a need to frequently urinate.  High blood glucose translates to high levels of sugar in the urine, which can trigger urinary tract infections (UTIs).  UTIs are very painful and can be fatal if untreated.  Untreated UTIs are a serious problem for residents who cannot communicate that they experience pain while urinating, or for those who are incontinent, as they may develop a UTI but will be unable to receive treatment for it.

Incontinence issues are a major problem for older individuals who have difficulty moving and getting out of bed to use the restroom.  Frequent urination associated with high glucose levels can make getting up and going to the bathroom even more challenging.  In addition to the sense of urgency associated with urination, more frequent urination means getting up more often to use the restroom.  This can pose an increased risk of an accidental fall occurring if the resident needs to get up out of bed or out of his or her wheelchair to alleviate him or herself.  If the resident needs to urinate during the night, it can be unsafe for a resident to try to make his or her way to the restroom, and an accidental fall may occur in the dark.

Diabetic residents are also at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated.  Frequent urination promotes dehydration in diabetic residents with high glucose levels, since they are constantly relieving themselves of fluids, and may not take in a sufficient amount of new fluids to replenish the lost liquids.

Another byproduct of high glucose levels is the blood becoming thicker than normal.  This thickening of the blood can place a resident at an increased risk for having a stroke.  To counteract this effect of high glucose levels in the blood, diabetics are often prescribed medication to manage their condition. Yet, diabetes management with medication places residents with diabetes at an increased risk of experiencing unintended side effects of a medication, due to the possibility of drug interactions.

If someone you love is a diabetic resident at one of Illinois’ nursing homes, and you are concerned that he or she is not receiving the care they need, please contact the Rooth Law Firm today online or at (847) 869-9100.

Photo Credit: Jill A. Brown via Compfight cc


American Diabetes Association, Hyperglycemia (High Blood Glucose)

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