Managing disbetes by caring springs care providers

Wednesday, 07 September, 2016

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Diabetes is a growing health problem, characterised by the body’s reduced capacity or inability to control blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Poorly-controlled diabetes can result in:

  • Chronic infections
  • Poor wound healing
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue.

Diabetes can also lead to long-term health problems, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Vision impairment
  • Kidney failure

Best practice diabetes management in the elderly population has evolved immensely. There is now a better understanding of the disease and its implications for the frail elderly. And there have been many improvements in diabetes medications and insulin therapies.

For the dietary management of seniors with diabetes, our caregivers always consider the following:

1. Menu planning

A separate diabetic menu is not required. If the standard menu is well balanced, there is no need to provide alternative diabetic options. An even distribution of carbohydrate-containing foods at each meal and snack ensures the regular menu can be applied for all.

2. Artificial sweeteners

Diet products such as diet cordial, diet jams and artificial sweeteners are not necessary for people with diabetes. These products can be expensive, and when consumed regularly, may result in gastrointestinal upset in some cases.

3. Sugar

Sugar added to tea or coffee, or a thin spread of jam on toast can be included as part of a healthy diet for seniors with diabetes. A spoonful of sugar in a drink between meals is unlikely to impact greatly on blood glucose levels. Likewise, regular desserts such as fruit crumble and custard, milk-based mousses and ice-cream are acceptable to include as part of the menu for seniors with diabetes. Foods with large amounts of added sugar such as soft drinks and lollies are of low nutritional value so should be kept to a minimum.

4. Fibre

A higher-fibre menu is a benefit to all seniors, not just those with diabetes. Higher-fibre foods slow the release of glucose into the blood, assisting in balancing blood glucose levels. Ways to ensure enough fibre in the diet include:

  • Offering porridge, bran-based cereals or muesli at breakfast.
  • Providing wholemeal bread as a standard item on the menu.
  • Ensuring two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables are offered each day.
  • Offering higher-fibre snack options, such as cakes and biscuits with added dried fruit, bran or wholemeal flour.
  • Offering fresh cut-up fruit.
  • Adding legumes to soups.

5. Meal frequency

Regular meals and snacks are important for all elderly people to ensure enough food and fluids are consumed. Although this is also important for seniors with diabetes, these people are often unnecessarily provided with extra snacks, often plates of sandwiches, to avoid low blood glucose levels.

Not all seniors with diabetes are at risk of low blood glucose. Only those receiving insulin, and some on oral hypoglycaemic medications, are at risk.

For these people, a substantial supper snack should be given to avoid blood glucose levels dropping overnight. Appropriate snacks may include a milk-based drink, yoghurt, a sandwich or dry biscuits with cheese..

6. Weight control

Being overweight can have a negative effect on blood sugar control. However, our caregivers everyday checks the weight for better controlling and understanding the blood glucose levels.