Navigating the New Normal of COVID-19 for Elders with Diabetes
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Whether you live with diabetes or your parent, grandparent, neighbor or friend does, there may be times during this global pandemic when you feel alone – but you're not. With an estimated 34+ million Americans with diabetes, more than 14 million of them seniors, we're going to get through this COVID-19 public health crisis together.
Here are a few tips for supporting our elders with diabetes as we learn to navigate this current normal:
Have a Plan
Have the phone numbers of close family members, doctors, pharmacists, insurance providers and anyone else on your healthcare team who you may need to reach in case of emergency in an easy-to-access location. Also consider checking with your pharmacy ahead of time to learn if they can deliver your medication in case COVID-19 cases rise in your county and you find yourself uncomfortable going out. Having a list of medications, vitamins and supplements you take, complete with dosage information, easily accessible can streamline the purchasing process for you or your caregiver. And with the availability of simple technology, talking high blood sugar in elderly and all non-essential doctor’s visits can often be held online and are usually covered by health plans: Simply check with your provider or request assistance from someone you trust.
When it comes to your medications, vitamins and supplements, it's a good idea to have at least one month's worth on hand if possible. However, it's a good rule of thumb to ensure you always have insulin for the week ahead, in case you can't get out for a refill in a timely manner. If you or your loved one struggles financially to cover insulin costs, consider visiting InsulinHelp.org. Also be sure to have glucagon and ketone strips to ensure normal blood sugar for seniors, and monitor any lows or highs.
When it comes to groceries, if possible, set up a grocery delivery service. If that isn't an option in your neighborhood, ask family and friends going out for groceries if they'd be willing to pick up some things for you as well. You might be surprised at how many people truly want to help during this odd time. If you insist on that purchasing your own food and supplies is the only way for you to go, visit your preferred shops during hours reserved for seniors and immune-compromised shoppers only. Not only will everything be freshly cleaned, but the store should be less crowded making check-out a breeze.
Whether it's online, on the news or in the paper, look for credible sources of COVID-19 information such as the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control. Ask your health care team what adjustments should be made in your or your loved one’s routine, particularly when it comes to blood glucose management.
Consider Household Change Needs
If you live in a multigenerational household, especially one with essential workers, consider implementing new routines, such as not sharing personal items such as drinking glasses, silverware, plates of food, etc. If possible, designate a section of the house (bedroom and bathroom) for potentially exposed or sick family members. Also, consider limiting visitors or changing how visitors are received: for example, limit non-household members visits to front porch or front yard access only, with seating at opposite ends of this outdoor space. It's important to keep in mind that friends and neighbors may unknowingly carry the disease, without displaying symptoms, which can be very dangerous for the diabetic elderly.
Stay Connected to Prevent Isolation
In the midst of changes to routine, social distancing and more, feeling isolated can be a natural reaction. However, our elders, especially those with health conditions may experience even more anxiety and loneliness. Technology such as FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and more can keep everyone connected with family, friends and other support across the country. If you want to discuss the pandemic, do so with the people you trust most. However, be sure to also talk about uplifting subjects, subjects unrelated to COVID-19. If COVID-19 is weighing heavily on your mind or the mind of your loved one, consider finding a professional counselor who conducts video or phone appointments, which may be covered by insurance with or without a a co-pay. Other online therapy resources, often paid out of pocket, include Talkspace.com and BetterHelp.com, where you can be connected to a professional counselor selected based on your needs and concerns.
Considering the Next Step in Healthcare
If you or your loved one is looking for the ideal senior community to call home, no matter the level of care needed, we're here to help you explore all of your options with absolutely no cost to you. Customizing recommendations based on your needs, priorities and desires is our specialty and what we love to do.