When it comes to your health, your mind and body are very much connected. For instance, people who suffer from diabetes can be at a higher risk of developing vascular dementia. Studies are also showing a link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes that can cause additional cognitive impairment – and that’s something for which our caregivers are always watchful.
Diabetes is a particularly insidious disease, affecting more than 9 million Canadians either living with the disease or in a borderline ‘pre-diabetes’ phase. Aside from its link to vascular dementia, about 80 percent of people with diabetes die of heart disease or stroke – and it shorten life expectancy by years. Worst of all, about a third of sufferers may not even know that they have the disease.
Fortunately, we do live in an age when it is possible to manage the symptoms of the disease through insulin. Within living memory, this was not always the case. Indeed, one of our clients, Frances, had the good fortune to meet the scientist who first isolated insulin at the University of Toronto in 1921: Dr. Frederick Banting. She was acquainted with the doctor through her husband, who tragically did pass away from diabetes while still relatively young. “I remember that the doctor was a serious man, but optimistic about the potential of insulin,” she says. “So many people have gone on to live fuller lives thanks to his discovery. It really was a miracle at the time.”
Advice for Caregivers for Managing Clients with Diabetes
Living with diabetes requires careful management and observation that goes beyond regular caregiving. All Live at Home Care associates receive training to ensure that existing conditions of diabetes are managed well – and that potential signs of diabetes are diagnosed correctly if they show up.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, signs may include:
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight change (gain or loss)
- Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
- Blurred vision
- Frequent or recurring infections
- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
- Trouble getting or maintaining an erection
Additional Care and Management with Diabetes
The signs of diabetes can be confused with symptoms that may show up due to other problems associated with aging – and may require a doctor’s opinion. Caregivers should ensure clients attend regular checkups and get special help if needed. Additional cognitive function tests may be necessary to help break the ‘vicious cycle’ connecting diabetes and dementia.