Diabetes is a disease which sees the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin impaired. This results in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.
Diabetes UK has reported that in 2004/05, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes was 2.1 million. By 2019/20, this number had skyrocketed to around 4.1 million and could reach as many as 5.5 million by 2030.
With a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle to blame for the condition combined with an increasingly aged population, it’s clear that more and more people will require specialist care from those with a good understanding of the condition.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin.
Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Too much glucose then stays in your blood, and not enough reaches your cells.
Diabetes in figures
According to the International Diabetes Federation, complications due to diabetes are a major cause of disability, reduced quality of life and death. Diabetes complications can affect various parts of the body, manifesting in different ways for different people.
- People with diabetes have around twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those without.
- Almost one in three people with type 2 diabetes develop overt kidney disease. and diabetes is the single most common cause of end stage renal disease.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have cataracts or glaucoma and 10 to 20 times more likely to go blind than people without.
- Diabetes is the most common cause of lower limb amputations10 with 100 amputations a week being carried out due to diabetes. Worldwide, the rate of leg amputations in people with diabetes is at least 15 times higher than in people without. 12 Up to 70% of people die within five years of having a diabetes-related amputation.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include feeling tired, increased hunger or thirst, losing weight without trying, urinating often, or having trouble with blurred vision. You may also get skin infections or heal slowly from cuts and bruises. Some people with type 2 diabetes may not realise they have it because symptoms often develop slowly and go unnoticed. Sometimes older adults dismiss these symptoms as “getting old,” but they can be signs of a serious problem. Talk with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
What health problems can people with diabetes develop?
Following a good diabetes care plan can help protect against many diabetes-related health problems. However, if not managed, diabetes can lead to problems such as
- heart disease and stroke
- nerve damage
- vascular dementia
- kidney disease
- foot problems
- eye disease
- gum disease and other dental problems
- sexual and bladder problems
Diabetes in the elderly
The number of older people aged over 65 living with type 2 diabetes is rising and set to increase sharply to five million people by 2025.
By 2050 the number of people aged 85+ years will be over eight million in the UK. The number of older people living with diabetes is set to rise, with a growing population requiring care in their older age.
Although diabetes is becoming increasingly common in members of the UK population, the symptoms experienced by elderly sufferers mean that it is critical that adequate care is found as soon as possible.
With blindness, a lack of recognition of thirst, frequent urination and impaired cognitive function all symptoms of diabetes, sufferers require additional care to help them to lead happy and healthy lives.
For many family members, care responsibilities can prove to be too much. Diabetes can cause a multitude of complications, so finding appropriate care is essential to safeguard the wellbeing of the sufferer and their loved ones.
Vascular dementia and Diabetes
Sadly, diabetes also carries a heightened risk of developing vascular dementia, a condition caused by a lack of oxygen and nutrient carrying blood to the brain. This in turn leads to problems with reasoning, planning, judgment and memory.
“People with dementia may be unable to recognise the symptoms associated with hyperglycaemia . The presence of infections such as thrush or urinary tract infections may be the only sign that the person has diabetes. Repeated requests for drinks or to be taken to the toilet may be mis-interpreted by carers as forgetfulness in the person with dementia. The likelihood of having co-morbid conditions may add to the complexity of managing such individuals and can increase the risk of hospitalisation.” Trend Diabetes
This in itself is cause for specialist dementia care either at home or within a care home setting as it poses yet another set of challenges to the individual’s safety and overall wellbeing. It is important that anyone who helps to care for a friend or family member with diabetes can also recognise the signs of a stroke and vascular dementia and knows how to act quickly to minimise harm.
Living well with diabetes and dementia.
“You’ve got to learn to live with diabetes, like I am now with my dementia. I have got a list of things that are wrong with me. I could let them control me and feel self-pity, but I prefer to say ‘well, I’ve got to try my best to cope with it and get on and enjoy my life”
Ernie has always been passionate about helping people. Despite the challenges that Type 2 diabetes, dementia with Lewy bodies and other health conditions can bring, Ernie is determined to stay positive and ‘live in the light’.
Are you living with diabetes and dementia, or do you support / care for someone who is? Our in-house care specialists are available for advice and guidance on clients with complex health conditions and our dementia expert provides advice on care plans, and can also offer training and support to our carers and our clients’ families.
24 hour Diabetes care at home – Benefits of specialist live in care.
Live-in care is an increasingly popular alternative to residential care, as it allows your loved one to keep control of their life.
We know the default care option tends to be residential or nursing homes, although unsurprisingly 97 per cent of people don’t want to move into institutional care if they become ill or less able to cope.
Live in care means a client with diabetes never need to conform to a new daily routine in a strange new place. Instead, the flexibility of live in care means it is the job of the carer to adapt to the routine already in place. By living with your loved one they become completely dedicated to their needs, their wellbeing and their happiness.
We understand that many people have the intention to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and we make this a viable option for many. Quite simply, live-in care allows our clients to remain independent, in their own home, with all the security of professional help close at hand.
Lifestyle is a major factor when it comes to diabetes and having help staying active and eating a balanced diet is extremely useful. In addition, carers can help with medication maintenance which is especially helpful if a person has problems remembering to take medication, or issues taking the medication without aid.
Most importantly, a trained eye is on hand looking out for signs that need medical attention, such as sores that may not be felt by the client because of their diabetes. Such seemingly minor problems can get worse very quickly and result in very serious advanced medical issues if they are not treated in time. The carer will also be able to actively coordinate any extra health care such as visiting NHS nurses and doctors visits.
If you think that care in the home could help you or a family member with diabetic support, why not call us for impartial advice on how live-in home care can help with diabetes in the elderly and many other conditions, including dementia and Parkinson’s.
You can reach us by phone on 01494 917 344 or email us at email@example.com
Additional sources of information
Diabetes UK – Guide to diabetes, older people and diabetes
NHS England – Diabetes treatment and Care Programme
Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation – Parents And Carers
Know Diabetes – Meet up with parents, carers and families
Diabetes UK Support Groups – Find your local Diabetes UK group