Diabetes: An Increasingly Prevalent Issue in Nursing Homes that Requires Immediate Attention

The prevalence of diabetes is increasing exponentially in the American population. In nursing homes alone, it has been found that 20 percent of adults between the ages of sixty-five and seventy-five suffer from diabetes, and that 40 percent of adults over the age of eighty suffer from this common illness. Because of its widespread nature, the Journal of American Medical Directors Association featured an “Update on Diabetes in the Elderly and in Nursing Homes” in its November 2011 issue.

The article reported that in the elderly, diabetes often manifests itself as weight loss, fatigue, and nocturia. Because these issues are often attributed to old age, 25 to 41 percent of elderly adults remain undiagnosed. Therefore, it is important that your loved one’s nursing home is adequately staffed with trained professionals who recognize that these may in fact be signs of diabetes, rather than automatically blaming old age as the underlying cause.

Understaffing also becomes a major issue in the treatment of diabetes. Elderly adults who are diabetic suffer a great burden of disease. They are constantly being transferred in and out of hospitals, and are at higher risk of hypertension, heart failure, kidney disease, visual impairment, and foot problems. Due to the various ailments that often accompany diabetes, adults who suffer from this illness require additional staff assistance for activities of everyday living. Therefore, if your loved one suffers from diabetes, it is crucial for you to ensure that his or her nursing home facility is providing your loved one with the care and assistance that he or she requires as a diabetic.

Caregivers must also be very alert and observant because diabetic residents are also more susceptible to falls. Studies have shown that diabetic residents suffer more fractures than residents who do not have diabetes. This is a significant issue because falls can have serious implications, including death, that can often be avoided with an active and attentive staff.

Regarding the treatment of diabetes, the article emphasizes the importance of individualized care plans, especially in patients with dementia. There is evidence to show that patients with cognitive impairments are less likely to be put on a special diet. Because diabetes is an illness that is directly linked to nutrition, it is essential that every patient’s nutritional needs are met, whether or not they have dementia.

According to the Journal of American Medical Directors Association, the goals of diabetes treatment should be to decrease pain and nocturia, while limiting cognitive impairment. Because diabetic patients are more vulnerable to infections, such as pressure ulcers, the influenza, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), scabies, clostridium difficile (C. difficile), and sepsis, another goal of treatment is to decrease the likeliness of contracting any of the above infections. Additionally, caregivers should strive to improve incontinence and prevent falls in diabetic patients.


If your loved one resides in a nursing home in Burbank, Glendale, or Culver City, and you feel that he or she is not receiving the care that is required of diabetes for the best quality of life, contact us today to see how we can help.