Coronavirus and its impacts on seniors with diabetes

seniors with diabetes

Coronavirus and its impacts on seniors with diabetes

March 18, 2020 by Brett Shay, CEO of Chosen Family Home Care

 

Seniors and those with chronic medical conditions are at greater risk from the coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control. Infection may result in serious complications from the new coronavirus, and are at a higher risk for death. 

Conditions that can lead to complications

Major chronic conditions they highlighted are diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. 

Diabetes overview and contraction risk

There were 34.2 million Americans with diabetes in 2018. Around 1.6 million Americans are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease.

For people with diabetes during this COVID-19 outbreak, there is some good news. Diabetics are not more likely to get COVID-19. The concern lies with the seriousness of the virus once infection occurs. 

Diabetes complications and coronavirus

According to the ADA,  people with diabetes had higher rates of serious complications and death than people with the virus who do not have diabetes. There are some ways to minimize this risk however. “If diabetes is well managed, the risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19 is about the same as the general population,” maintains the ADA. 

Diabetes that is not well managed can increase the risk of complications, including heart disease. This is another condition that the CDC and WHO points out for higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19

Viral infections, like the new coronavirus, increase inflammation. This also happens when your blood sugar is higher than its target rate. It all contributes further to a risk of complications. 

Diabetic ketoacidosis from viral infection

People with both type 1 and 2 diabetes have a higher risk for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) when ill with a viral infection. DKA is a life-threatening problem that can cause blood to become too acidic. It occurs when blood sugar levels are far too high. If a diabetic person has DKA, that can make it more difficult to avoid sepsis and septic shock. In turn, the ADA maintains that these “are some of the more serious complications that some people with COVID-19 have experienced.” 

Health experts generally agree that there is no difference in risk for people with type 1 versus type 2 diabetes. Age and the level of control over diabetes will affect risk most. 

As reported, COVID-19 is more dangerous than the seasonal flu. General precautions to avoid it should be followed more strictly among those with diabetes. Consider washing your hands regularly and avoiding close contact with people who are coughing or sneezing. 

Home care preparations for uncertain times

In the midst of the pandemic, it can help to have an emergency plan in place, especially for seniors. For those with diabetes, the ADA recommends having a full supply of diabetes supplies on hand. Request a 3-month prescription from your insurance company. To minimize pharmacy contacts and to ensure safety, insurance companies have been more likely to offer 90 day medicine supplies versus the standard 30 day refills during the pandemic. 

For those prone to low blood sugar, have a supply of blood sugar boosting foods ready to go such as candy, popsicles, and juice. Ensure that your emergency low blood sugar glucagon pen, or G-pen, is not expired.

If you get sick, contact your endocrinologist as soon as possible for coronavirus testing or advice on managing your diabetes while ill. 

Read about handwashing hygiene and hand care for seniors. 

The help of home care services in a crisis

Help take the confusion out of care for yourself or your loved one in need. By partnering with a home care agency like Chosen Family, you can count on well-trained and compassionate home health aides and caregivers to keep your senior loved one safe. 

The best providers of senior home care like Chosen Family ensure that they have the right protocols and emergency procedures in place for difficult and quickly changing health challenges like the coronavirus outbreak. We partner closely with family and elders in need to foster a healthy environment at home and help families adequately prepare.

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