Managing Diabetes in Seniors

Living with diabetes is challenging at the best of times. Living with diabetes as a senior is even more difficult. Residential assisted living homes that meet these special needs not only help residents live longer and healthier, but it’s also great for business.

Health and longevity of seniors is what keeps homes filled longer. It also enables residential assisted living owners and operators to go above and beyond when boosting brand image.

Did you know that 1 in 10 Americans have Diabetes type II, which impacts 34.2 million people in the United States?

According to the CDC, you can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, but it occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight or obese.

As a result, residential assisted living caregivers have a huge responsibility in managing diabetes amongst residents.

There are 8 ways to tackle the symptoms and side-effects of diabetes.


With diabetes affecting 1 in 4 seniors, many caregivers are taking care of someone impacted by disease.
Diabetes is a serious health condition and in many cases people end up in an emergency clinic due to poor control of their blood sugar.

The most important step residential assisted living home caregivers can do is help residents make healthy lifestyle choices. This battle is often fought in the kitchen by keeping blood sugar at healthy levels.

Unfortunately, until seniors are diagnosed it is difficult to monitor. Like high blood pressure, diabetes can sometimes feel like a silent disease because symptoms don’t necessarily present in striking ways until something goes wrong.

Meanwhile, long-term complications from uncontrolled diabetes can result in many health challenges, to include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Hearing impairment
  • Skin infections

Use the following checklist to discover 8 ways to manage diabetes and support residents in achieving better health and quality of life.

  1. Medication Management
    Many seniors diagnosed with diabetes are prescribed medication that requires proper management. Use pill organizers to stay on top of daily doses and avoid accidentally running out. Pill organizers also prevent seniors from taking too much or too little. Be observant and cautious that diabetes medications aren’t interacting with existing prescription medication.
  2. Stress Relief Techniques
    Increases in stress levels can negatively impact blood sugar levels. The fight-or-flight response that’s triggered by stress doesn’t work properly in people with diabetes and can spike blood sugar levels. Practicing self-care techniques such as yoga, discovering new hobbies, or getting a massage can reduce stress and help eliminate worsening symptoms of diabetes.
  3. Diabetes Education
    The beginning of any caregiving journey begins with education. There are many diseases and conditions that mainly affect the elderly population, which make education critical to quality care. Authoritative medical information provided by Mayo Clinic and the American Diabetes Association have a lot of information about diabetes. This information can be accessed online and posted in your residential assisted living home. A local hospital, medical clinic, and doctors also provide useful diabetes education.
  4. Smart Exercise
    Physical activity plays a key role in keeping blood sugar levels down and helping with healthy weight loss. However, it is important to avoid exercising when blood sugar levels are already low. Keep physical activity guidelines in mind, like scheduling exercise about an hour or so after a meal when blood sugar levels are usually higher. When exercising, keep glucose tablets, water, and carb-rich snacks nearby. You can enroll in a weight loss program to see your progress.
  5. Make Lifestyle Changes Together
    Lifestyle changes like exercising more and eating a healthier diet will benefit residents with and without diabetes. Committing to small changes together is equally as encouraging to seniors as a personal trainer is younger people who take weight management seriously.
  6. Encourage Self-Monitoring
    Advocating for seniors can be helpful, but it is important that seniors hear directly from their doctors and healthcare providers. Clarity is key. Self-monitoring puts seniors in control of their own health. At-home blood sugar monitoring with tests allows individuals to track accurate blood glucose levels each day. Seniors and caregivers can take notes together, track the diet of each resident, exercise, and the effects of stress over time.
  7. Establish a Medical ID
    Avoid the trauma and fear posed by diabetic emergencies with the use of a medical bracelet. It is scary when a senior in residential assisted living faints from low blood sugar, a slow healing wound that develops a severe infection, or going into shock from diabetic ketoacidosis. A Medical ID is a great reminder for when these unexpected incidents occur. This could also be worn in the form of a necklace or with medical information in the emergency section on a smartphone.
  8. Seek Support
    Reach out to other caregivers in your residential assisted living home. Ask around for senior support groups that provide care for people with diabetes. Do not hesitate to check online and on social media for private support groups going through a similar journey.


When seniors in residential assisted living live longer, your home will stay occupied. Providing quality care allows owners and operators to do good and do well.

The Residential Assisted Living National Association is a great resource for helping your business provide best practices.

At RALNA industry leaders can get legal support, group discounts, useful blogs and so much more. Click to learn more about free memberships and quality senior care and wellness.

Wellness is more than a weight loss program, it’s a comprehensive effort to strengthen and preserve the entire person.

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