Diabetes care for older adults

Learn how to help your loved one live a healthy life with diabetes

Managing diabetes can be difficult for anyone, but older adults need extra support to adopt a new healthy lifestyle and treatment regimen. If they are already taking multiple medications, they may need help managing new ones that help balance their blood sugar. In addition, foot care is especially important for older adults with diabetes.1–2

Realistic lifestyle changes

A diagnosis of diabetes in later years can be a life-altering event, and successfully managing it can mean making changes to an established and comfortable routine. Experts recommend that you and your loved one start by setting small goals and work toward making changes together. Major lifestyle changes are difficult for anyone, but they can be made more easily if you are both in it together.1

Learn more on tips for caregivers from Diabetes Canada

Multiple medications

An estimated 2/3 of Canadians over 65 take 5 or more different prescription drugs, and 1/4 take 10 or more.2 For older adults diagnosed with diabetes, this can mean adding oral medications and injections into their daily regimen.

Use the following few simple tips to keep multiple medications straight:

  • Fill and proactively refill your prescriptions at one pharmacy.
  • Use a pill dispenser (or pillbox).
  • Make and update a list of all the medications your loved one is taking.2

Learn more on tips for managing multiple medications from Johns Hopkins Medicine

Diabetes and foot care

Older people with diabetes should have their feet checked regularly by their healthcare team, and inspected every day. A daily inspection includes checking for:

  • Cracks
  • Cuts
  • Ingrown nails

Older people may find this difficult and need your help to make sure they’re catching any issues before they become problems.1

Learn more on diabetes and foot care from Diabetes Canada

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Living with diabetes Resource Library

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  1. Diabetes Canada. Diabetes & the elderly in your care. Diabetes Canada. http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/general-tips/diabetes-the-elderly-in-your-care. Accessed May 29, 2017.
  2. Canadian Institute for Health Information. Drug use among seniors on public drug programs in Canada, 2012: revised October 2014. https://secure.cihi.ca/free_products/Drug_Use_in_Seniors_on_Public_Drug_Programs_EN_web_Oct.pdf. Accessed July 5, 2017.
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Help for managing multiple medications. Johns Hopkins Medicine Web site. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/caregiver_resources/help-for-managing-multiple-medications. Accessed February 11, 2017.