Improving the Care of Older Adults with Diabetes

Are you an older adult with diabetes, or a caregiver to an older person who has this disease? The odds are good that you are. Today, more than one in every four Americans aged 65 and older has diabetes.  And this is cause for concern. Diabetes can cause serious complications—including high blood pressure, depression, nerve pain, and difficulty thinking and remembering. But there’s some good news: Researchers and healthcare providers are learning more about how to help older adults with diabetes stay as healthy as possible.

This month the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) published a new guideline (The American Geriatrics Society Guidelines for Improving the Care of Older Adults with Diabetes Mellitus: 2013 Update), to help healthcare professionals  improve care for older people with diabetes. And based on the guideline, the Healthinaging.org has created two easy-to-read  tip-sheets.

One of the tip-sheets offers up-to-date, expert advice about living with diabetes in later life. The other summarizes the latest recommendations for  managing the complications of diabetes. [Click on the underlined words to see the tip sheets.]

We hope you will find this  information helpful, and encourage you to  talk to your healthcare provider about how you can put it to use. Please help us spread the word and share this news with other older people who have diabetes.

 

Transferring Older Adults from Hospitals to Nursing Homes

Ken Covinsky, MD, a geriatrician at the University of San Francisco (UCSF), recently published a blog on GeriPal  addressing an issue that affects many older adults—problems with transfers from the hospital to the nursing home.  Dr. Covinsky worked with Healthinaging.org to include some specific recommendations for caregivers, who can play an active role in helping to ensure safer transfers between sites of care for their older family members and friends.

Recent Study Shows Poor Communication Between Hospitals and Nursing Homes
Huge numbers of older people are transferred from hospitals to nursing homes.  Often, an older hospitalized patient needs skilled nursing care before they are ready to return home.  In other cases, a nursing home resident who needed hospitalization is returning to the nursing home.  Older patients and their families certainly hope that great communication between the hospital and nursing home will ensure a seamless transition in care.

But a recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (click here for a copy of the article) suggests that the quality of communication between the hospital and the nursing home can be very problematic.  The study was led by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, including nurse researcher, Dr. Barbara King, and geriatrician, Dr. Amy Kind.

The authors conducted interviews and focus groups with 27 front-line nurses in skilled nursing facilities.  These nurses noted that very difficult transitions from the hospital to nursing home were common.  Sadly, when asked to give the details of a good transition, none of the nurses were able to think of an example.

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May is Older Americans Month

Flipping through the TV channels while looking for the news the other day, I caught a glimpse of an old movie that got my attention.  It caught my eye because one of the characters was an older man who was so grouchy and uptight that he scared away almost anyone who tried to get close to him. What struck me about this character was how depressed he was.

May is Older Americans’ Month—the month we celebrate older adults and all they have contributed and continue to contribute throughout their lives. The theme of this year’s Older Americans’ Month is “Unleash the Power of Age.”  However, it’s hard to unleash that power— and do all that you can do with it—if you find depression is holding you back.

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National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, and I hope that you will take this time to discuss and document your healthcare wishes.  We all need to be prepared in the event of a health crisis, and having the talk is easier than most people think, but many of us need a little inspiration or a reminder to do it.  I hope that this message and National Healthcare Decisions Day are all you need.

Please take some time today and have the talk with your loved ones.  There are all sorts of free resources, including free advance directive forms for each of the 50 states and a great short video to get you thinking and talking, on the NHDD website: www.nhdd.org.  Additionally, please help spread the word with TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Advance care planning is something we ALL should do and encourage others to do, regardless of age or current health.  Discussing your wishes can be one of the most important gifts you ever give your loved ones.