July 27, 2005

Diabetes Causes Concern in LTC Facilities

A recent article in Yahoo News emphasized how critical diabetes care has become to ensuring a high quality of care in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in America, and it afflicts a disproportionate amount of older Americans. Half of all diabetes cases involve individuals over the age of 55, and over a quarter of the residents in LTC facilities suffer from the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that nearly 1 in 5 people over 60 has diabetes. Due to its prevalence in nursing homes and other similar facilities, approximately 10% of healthcare costs are associated with the disease.

With the technology changing and the nature of the disease, it is important that a facility regularly monitor their diabetes management program. The ADA suggests that facilities use the following steps to evaluate their diabetes management programs:

-- Assess the current diabetes situation
-- Screen high-risk patients who have not been diagnosed with diabetes
-- Order appropriate lab tests to determine the resident's condition
-- Assess the patient's hyperglycemia and identify the cause
-- Confirm diabetes diagnosis
-- Evaluate the nature and severity of diabetic complications
-- Obtain input from staff who have worked with the resident
-- Summarize the patient's condition
-- Develop an individualized care plan and define treatment goals
-- Address causes and complications with the resident and caregivers
-- Use oral hypoglycemia agents or insulin as necessary
-- Implement the care plan
-- Re-evaluate the patient at regularly scheduled intervals
-- Routinely monitor the patient's blood glucose levels

It is also important for healthcare facilities to stay abreast of any developments in the field. Continuing education programs and open communication will both help to increase awareness and improve treatment of diabetes.

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