04/05/2016 12:12 EDT | Updated 04/06/2017 05:12 EDT

Caretaking Tips For Seniors With Diabetes

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Older couple testing blood sugar together

Each year the World Health Organization celebrates World Health Day by raising awareness about important global health issues. On April 7th, World Health Day is bringing attention to the rise in diabetes, as well as its consequences, prevention, treatment tips and diagnosis.

The risk of developing diabetes increases with age and while it's extremely important to do everything you can to prevent the onset of diabetes, it's equally important to know how to manage it.

Caring for seniors with diabetes comes with unique challenges. While many seniors may have been managing their diabetes on their own for quite some time, they often require more help as they age. And while managing diabetes can be tough, it's definitely not impossible.

If you do your homework, take the time to understand the disease, and remain diligent, you can help your loved ones stay happy and healthy with or without diabetes. Here are some tips to get you started.

Discuss health needs openly: Depending on how long your loved one has been managing diabetes, their daily regimens may vary. They may want their primary caregiver to take over the responsibility of managing diabetes altogether, or they may just need some minor help watching for changes in their health. Before you develop a comprehensive healthcare plan for your loved one, take the time to understand how much assistance they need and want in their day-to-day life.

Monitor and observe: Arguably the most important task when it comes to managing diabetes is daily monitoring. This begins with keeping track of your loved one's blood glucose levels. Blood glucose refers to the amount of sugar in your blood at any given time. It's harmful to have both high or low blood glucose levels, especially for those with diabetes.

How often you need to test blood glucose levels depends on your loved one's treatment plan. You can access blood glucose meters at most pharmacies or from your family physician.

In addition to blood glucose monitoring, it's equally important to observe and keep track of changes in the overall health of your loved one. This means being aware of their temperament, memory, appetite, motor functioning and anything else that may provide clues.

Create meal plans: Once you've started keeping tabs on blood glucose levels, you can help adjust daily diet and meal plans accordingly. Dietary needs will differ depending on the health of the senior in your life, but one thing is true for everyone; it's always important to eat well-balanced, nutritious meals.

Vegetables, fruits and whole grains should be incorporated into every meal plan and portion sizes should be carefully chosen. Cholesterol levels should also be kept in normal range, which means eating certain foods such as eggs, meat and dairy in moderation.

Encourage exercise: Physical activity is crucial for anyone looking to maintain their health, but it's also an important device for lowering and managing blood glucose levels. Any exercise regime should be vetted by or created in tandem with your loved one's healthcare professional to ensure that it's within their physical limits.

On top of managing blood glucose levels, a daily exercise routine will help keep your loved one healthy into the future and will prevent the development of other age-related illnesses. Plus, if you choose an activity you both enjoy, it can also be fun!

Create a consistent routine: As is the case with any healthcare plan, consistency is key. Regardless of what you, your loved one and their healthcare provider decide is best, you should always try to keep the daily routine consistent. A steady healthcare plan will ensure your loved one gets the nutrients, exercise, medication and special care they need daily.

Never stop learning: The world of diabetes management and care is always changing and improving. In fact, those are some of the main goals of World Health Day 2016: to scale up diabetes prevention and strengthen care. Healthcare options are not static and neither is the health of your loved one. Work actively to keep up-to-date on new treatment plans as well as the health-related progression of the seniors in your life to ensure you're always getting the best care possible.

This World Health Day, take steps towards improving the lives of your loved ones with diabetes. If we begin with healthy management techniques, we'll be well on our way to curbing the rise of diabetes in the future.

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