Caring For Seniors with Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada and November 14th is World Diabetes Day. There’s no better time to address the care issues faced by thousands of Canadians, the majority of which are seniors.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body uses blood sugar. It has the potential to cause serious complications when not properly controlled. Unfortunately, seniors – the most affected population – often have trouble managing diabetes on their own.

Aging and diabetes

Managing diabetes often involves a combination of medication and a diet and exercise. The condition often goes hand-in-hand with other conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol – both of which also require medication and a healthy lifestyle to manage. Diabetes also raises the risk of depression and cognitive impairment – something many older adults already struggle with.

Controlling diabetes can become increasingly difficult as we get older. Age-related memory issues can make it difficult to remember to take diabetes medication or insulin. Mobility issues, lack of exercise, and menopause can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, which can also worsen diabetes.

Caring for your parent with diabetes

Some people make managing their diabetes seem effortless. Perhaps your parent has spent years living a very healthy and active life with little to no mention of their condition. The reality is that controlling diabetes gets more difficult as the years go on and it needs to be considered when planning senior care.

The following are some things to consider when caring for a senior with diabetes:

  • Blood glucose monitoring
  • Meal planning to ensure healthy, consistent meals to avoid hypoglycemia
  • Medication, such as metformin
  • Administering of insulin injections
  • Medical appointments to check for eye problems, circulatory issues, and other diabetes complications
  • Weight management
  • Dental checkups (diabetes can worsen dental health)

Talking to your parent

Talking to your aging parent about their diabetes is important. It can help you understand what their care routine involves. It’s also a good way to gauge how well they’re managing their diabetes and spot red flags, like irritability and low energy.

Look for signs that taking care of their diabetes is becoming more difficult, like trouble holding their hands steady for a blood glucose test or insulin shot, forgetting to take their medication, or not eating as well as they should be.

Have an honest discussion with your parent about their condition and care requirements. Be realistic about what you’re able to do as far as caregiving. Keep in mind your other responsibilities, the amount of time and energy needed to care for a senior with diabetes, and even whether or not you think you’ll be able to do things like administer an insulin injection or perform a finger prick. Not everyone has the stomach for it and that’s okay!

In-home care for diabetes

The right care can help keep your parent’s diabetes well-controlled and minimize the risk of life-altering complications. It also allows seniors with diabetes and other health issues to age in the comfort of their own home, which can also have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

A professional senior care provider can assist with:

  • healthy meal planning and preparation
  • medication, including insulin injections
  • blood glucose monitoring
  • medical appointments
  • exercise
  • other errands, such as groceries, picking up prescriptions, etc.

In-home care providers are also act as another set of eyes so that can catch changes in your parent’s condition when you’re not able to be there.

Talk to your parent about their needs and work together on a care plan that you’re all comfortable with. Good planning and the right help can make all the difference.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

 

Article Resources
Diabetes Awareness Month Canada 2019. Canadian Diabetes Association. https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-awareness-month
Diabetes, 2017. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-625-x/2018001/article/54982-eng.htm
Diabetes in Canada. (2017). https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/diabetes-canada-highlights-chronic-disease-surveillance-system.html

How Caring for Your Elderly Parent Is Affecting Your Job

News articles and statistics on caregiving and employment often focus on the losses suffered by companies when adult children take time off to care for their elderly loved ones. But what about the impact that caregiving has on the employee who’s trying to take care of work and their aging parent?

The Impact of Caregiving on Your Employment

It’s long been known that people who care for an aging parent deal with increased stress and can suffer from caregiver burnout. Poor sleep, anxiety, and less “me” time to pursue personal interests are just some of the issues that caregivers face. For working Canadians, the demands of caregiving are even worse and have a domino effect on the workplace. The result is more time off work and reduced productivity.

A recent Ryerson University study focused on the impact that caring for an aging parent has on workers. It looked at two groups of people in a caregiver role – those with senior care responsibilities and those in the sandwich generation who are juggling both childcare and senior care responsibilities.  The results of the study were somewhat surprising. The group with only senior care demands was more overwhelmed that the group juggling both. They reported more difficulty with work-life balance and were more negatively impacted overall.

Work and Caring for Your Aging Loved One

If you have children, chances are you’ve had to skip out of work early or take time off to look after your child, be it for an illness or injury, or a medical appointment. If you don’t have children, you’ve likely had a co-worker miss time for these same reasons. Most employers are understanding of parents and their childcare responsibilities. Many companies even offer assistance for parents, such as onsite daycare or paid family responsibility days. Unfortunately, people who don’t have kids often don’t get the same compassion or support when the needs of their aging loved one interferes with work.

The hope is that employers will use the information from this and other studies when considering benefits for employees in a family caregiver role. A better understanding of the profound impact that looking after an aging parent has on an employee and how it can affect their job may help foster a more family-friendly culture that offers the same consideration and assistance to those in a senior care role.

What to Do In The Meantime

While some employers are supportive of those with familial responsibilities outside of just childcare, we still have a long way to go. Where does that leave you if you have a job and an older parent in need of care? Fortunately, you have options.

Here are some ideas to make work-life balance easier so that adult children and their aging loved one gets the care they need:

  • Speak to your employer about your situation so they are aware of your caregiving obligations; being honest may help reduce job-related anxieties.
  • Look into any support that your employer may offer, such as flexible work arrangements, employee assistance programs, etc.
  • Share the responsibilities with other family members and friends – you don’t need to do it alone.
  • Find a caregiver support group online or in your area.
  • Take care of yourself – it’s critical to balancing your work and caregiving demands.
  • Hire a home care agency – home care services can be adjusted to fit your needs whether that’s occasional respite care, so you get a break or ongoing home care services.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources
Halinski M, Duxbury L, Higgins C. (2018). Working While Caring for Mom, Dad, and Junior Too: Exploring the Impact of Employees’ Caregiving Situation on Demands, Control, and Perceived Stress. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0192513X18777839
Government of Canada. (2016). Balancing work and caregiving responsibilities, tips for employed caregivers of family or friends. https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum/tips-caregivers.html#h2.5