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Diabetes and Aging in Place

Anyone suffering with diabetes knows the importance of keeping blood sugar levels under control to prevent long-term complications such as kidney damage or cardiovascular disease. When improperly managed, however, patients can experience complications leading to serious health issues. There are many signs and symptoms to indicate that a person may not be managing their diabetes appropriately and are at risk for hypoglycemia.

Some of these include:

  • Dizziness
  • Moodiness & Irritability
  • Hunger
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Fainting or Seizures
  • Poor Coordination
  • Coma

Several  recent studies show that many older adults are at risk, some because of controlling their diabetes too tightly while others are not managing it carefully enough.  According to a study in the Jan. 12 online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine  tight blood-sugar control might result in overtreatment of diabetes.

“Studies show that tight control is not for everyone,” said Patricia Bononi, medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center affiliates at Allegheny Health Network. “Treatment should be individualized.”

On the other hand, studies such as the Jan. 15 online edition of Diabetes Care reviewed the care for 15,880 veterans age 65 years and older with diabetes and dementia. The study found that  many were at a high risk of hypoglycemia.

As people get older, they need to continue to monitor their diabetes care plan to ensure they are being treated properly. Dr. Bononi said it’s not surprising that the people in the recent study who had the most health problems also had high rates of low blood sugar.

Managing Diabetes

The challenge of managing diabetes is often overwhelming for an elderly person. Eating habits, activity levels, social interactions all change as we age and this can complicate the ability to recognize symptoms as they can be confused with life change symptoms or may be masked by other medications. In addition, elderly people with diabetes are also at a higher risk for cognitive problems which can complicate the ability to properly monitor the disease.

How can LifeFone Help?

It’s no surprise that many older adults want to age at home.  After years of living in one home, sharing experiences and building memories, the thought of leaving home for an assisted living facility or other location simply doesn’t feel right.

LifeFone provides a full suite of medical alert systems ranging from landline to mobile systems, GPS service and fall detection as well as a full home monitoring system for smoke and fire.  With the simple push of the medical alert button, LifeFone provides instant, caring and compassionate assistance from specifically trained Emergency Care Specialists. Once the button is pressed, the Care Specialists review the personalized instructions provided by the subscriber and dispatch help as needed.  This help can range from “call my daughter or neighbor – I don’t feel quite right” to “call an ambulance” and more.

Additionally, LifeFone provides check in services. Subscribers can choose to receive a phone call at a specific time each day of the week or can opt to check in with LifeFone every day. If a connection is not made with a subscriber at the specified time, Care Agents take appropriate steps ensure that the subscriber is okay.


Diabetes requires ongoing care and should be tailored for each individual. Seniors should make and keep regular appointments with their physician to monitor symptoms and blood-sugar levels. When at home and on the go, a medical alert system can provide peace of mind in the event of any emergency.

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