Nov 13, 2017 by Lisa Carson RN, BSN
Older adults who are living with diabetes should be extra cautious during the holiday season. By overindulging, they can slip into bad eating habits, raise their blood sugar levels, and gain weight. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways senior citizens can manage their diabetes and still enjoy the holidays. In honor of American Diabetes Month, Comfort Keepers of Lubbock, TX compiled the following list of home health care tips for diabetes management that are sure to help older adults keep their blood sugar levels and weight at bay during the holidays.
If older adults with diabetes are cooking dinner for their family or attending a dinner at a loved one’s home, they should search for healthy alternatives to traditional holiday dishes. For example, they can bake holiday cookies with an artificial sweetener instead of sugar and use substitutes like applesauce instead of butter in many baked goods. A home health care provider can help seniors who are cooking holiday dishes find low fat and sugar free alternatives to use when cooking those favorite holiday treats.
Due to the fact that the holiday season is filled with social gatherings, many seniors stay out later and don’t get enough sleep as a result. Since sleep loss can make it more difficult for them to control their blood sugar, and sleep deprivation almost always leads to overindulging in foods that are high in fat and sugar, it’s imperative that older adults get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every evening.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea for older adults to skip meals in order to save up for a big holiday feast. By doing so, seniors will find it more challenging to control their blood sugar. They will likely be starving and more likely to overeat if they skip meals than they would if they eat a nutritious meal a few hours beforehand.
Often times, diabetic seniors forget to exercise during the holiday season. This is unfortunate because working out on a regular basis during the holidays can help stabilize blood sugar and even offset the effects of a large meal. Some of the best exercises for older adults with diabetes include brisk walking outside or on a treadmill, water aerobics or swimming, bicycling, tai-chi, yoga, and stationary bicycling.
Seniors with diabetes don’t have to give up alcoholic drinks during the holiday season. After all what would the holidays be without some rum punch or eggnog? But seniors who have diabetes should limit the amount of alcohol that they drink. One or two drinks with dinner or appetizers is fine. But more than that should be avoided. Older adults with diabetes should also take care to have alcoholic drinks that are mixed with sugar free sodas and mixers so that they aren’t hit with a double punch of alcohol and extra sugar.
Seniors who struggle to manage their diabetes during the holiday season can get help from a home health care provider who can help them test their blood sugar and make sure that they don’t overdo it when it comes to holiday drinking.
Sticking to a diabetes meal plan and healthy lifestyle choices can be tough when there are temptations and holiday gatherings that make it easy for seniors to splurge. The good news is it can be done when older adults make it a priority to look for diabetes friendly alternatives to traditional holiday dishes, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, avoid skipping meals, and limit their alcohol intake.
If you have an older loved one with diabetes in Lubbock, TX or in the surrounding area and you’re worried about them managing their health during the holidays, contact us or call (806) 228-7359 today to find out all the ways that home health care services can help your loved one stay safe and still enjoy the holidays.