Diabetes in the Elderly

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21 st century and one of the biggest challenges confronting Australia’s health system and is now classified as one of the leading causes of death in Australia.

According to current statistics, approximately ‘1. 7 million Australians have diabetes and is estimated to cost more than $14.6 billion’ a year (Diabetes Australia, 2015); however, it is thought that these figures are grossly underestimated.

Diabetes poses considerable risk to the elderly due to the presence of additional comorbidities, which directly impact diabetes control and age specific issues such as decreased levels of independence, impaired mobility and dexterity, and inadequate social support (Australian Diabetes Educators Association, 2003, p. 2). Unfortunately, these factors make the recognition and treatment of diabetes problematic, to say the least.

As clinicians, our primary role in diabetes management is to:

  • Identify those with diabetes on admission, and assess in accordance with organisational policy• Identify those with diabetes on admission, and assess in accordance with organisational policy
  • Liaise with the treating medical officer re the development of a diabetic management plan
  • Monitor blood glucose levels
  • Administer medications
  • Provide appropriate foot and skin care
  • Encourage healthy eating, and physical activity, where able
  • Reduce stress and monitor for signs of illness and act promptly

All of the above, aim to reduce the risk of complications such as: cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, retinopathy, and Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Kind Regards,
Jodie Parks

Definition

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by high levels of glucose in the blood.

Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, or the body becomes resistant to insulin, or both.

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