Maybe you’ve noticed something seems a little off with your elderly parent. There’s been some new behaviors or physical symptoms that weren’t there before. Did you know, one in four seniors over the age of 65 has diabetes? Since diabetes is a disease in which your body has difficulty processing the sugars from the food you eat, it is often more common in senior who have had a lifetime of eating and living a lifestyle that provides the perfect environment for diabetes to develop.
As a caregiver of an elderly parent, you are always on the lookout for your parent’s well care and quality of life. If not caught early enough and not managed well, diabetes can come with a large range of complications from kidney failure, lower limb amputations and blindness. These complications alone make it imperative that you know the symptoms of diabetes.
Most symptoms come on slowly for type 2 diabetes, so it may be possible some of them have already been occurring for your parent. One of the benefits of having an elderly care provider in your parent’s life is that she may help you discover if some of these symptoms are currently occurring.
Excessive thirst or hunger
If your parent is always complaining of being hungry (which would be unique since metabolism slows down as we age), or is constantly needing to have a beverage to drink, this could be an early symptom of diabetes. You may not be able to monitor this yourself if your parent is not living with you. Having an elderly care professional in your parent’s life can be a good person to have check on your parent’s consumption of food and drink.
If it seems more than just general tiredness, especially if there is no new cause that you are aware of, fatigue can indicate the beginning of diabetes. Ask your parent or his home care provider to describe the level of fatigue and if it is affecting his daily quality of life.
Frequent urination and even bed wetting
While this too can have other causes, if it’s combined with excessive thirst and hunger, it can be a tell-tale sign of diabetes. A senior may try to hide something like bed-wetting, but as his caregiver, remind him there is no shame in having an accident at night. You just want to make sure you get to the bottom of the problem.
If your senior is having more trouble than normal seeing the TV or focusing on nearby objects, it could be more than time for a simple eyeglass upgrade.
If any of these symptoms are presenting in your senior, make an appointment with his doctor to talk about it and get a few simple tests to determine if diabetes has set in or is on the horizon. If possible, go with your parent to the doctor’s office or even have an elderly care professional bring your parent to the appointment with a written list of symptoms to present to the doctor. It can be hard for your parent to remember all they’re struggling with, but giving the doctor all of the information will help her make an informed decision for your elderly parent.