Diabetes and memory loss: Treating one, despite the other
by Kennedy Pancoast
Younger people may scoff at memory loss--the tennis ball on the antennae of a car and the sticky notes posted throughout the house. But for the elderly, memory loss is no laughing matter. Particularly if you suffer from an illness such as diabetes, memory loss can be life-threatening. Medicine has to be administered regularly. Healthy diets are a must. Exercise should occur daily. But when memory fails you, who can say whether these life-saving practices have been checked off of the list?
Before you learn how to monitor the treatments for diabetes, understand what some of the most frequent symptoms are:
- Weight Gain: People with diabetes gain weight, sometimes as a product of the medicine administered and other times because there is an excess of insulin in their bloodstream.
- Excessive Thirst: With diabetes, there can be a shortage of the hormone that regulates the amount of water excreted by the kidneys.
- Urination: Given that diabetes patients often drink large amounts of water, excessive urination can result.
- Weight Loss: As insulin levels are adjusted in diabetic patients, and excessive water leads to excessive urination, weight can fluctuate.
Treatments for diabetes patients are crucial, and insulin shots, blood sugar tests, and lifestyle adjustments are the main ingredients in this regimen. With the help of memory or not, the tips below can ensure that the elderly follow doctors' orders.
Dealing with Diabetes: Doctor Visits
On average, diabetes patients should visit their primary doctor every three months to review blood sugar levels. A blood pressure check and hemoglobin test will be administered, and doctors typically check the lower extremities for signs of infection or injury. Additionally, a dentist should check the patient's teeth every six months and an ophthalmologist should test vision annually.
If memory loss plagues your loved one, ask the doctors' offices to call you or a caretaker to confirm the date of the next appointment, and to call again the day prior to the appointment. You may also consider online services at which you can register to have reminders sent to you regarding your next appointments and tests.
The right diet and exercise can be life-saving for people suffering from diabetes. Unfortunately, those with memory loss or dementia may not have the tools to incorporate these practices into everyday living. Consider registering your loved one for exercise classes that occur regularly so that it becomes a part of her or his routine. For their diets, ensure that the right foods are stocked in the kitchen and that restaurants they frequent understand the dietary restrictions.
Living with Diabetes: Self-Monitored Tests
Blood sugar levels should be checked at least before meals and before bed, and the results should be noted in a common place such as a logbook. Obviously, for those with memory-loss or dementia, this can be a challenge. If the diabetes sufferer in your life has difficulty remembering to administer these tests, it may be time for outside help. If there is no full-time caretaker in place, consider finding someone who can be present at meal times and bedtime to ensure that doses are administered and the logbook is completed.
Diabetes is a serious disease, but life can go on if the proper treatments and lifestyle changes are incorporated into the patient's life. For the elderly suffering from this disease, however, remembering to practice these treatments regularly can be impossible. To ease this pressure, brainstorm ideas and if they are not enough, it may be time to consider full-time care.