Diabetes and Falls in the Elderly

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How can diabetes contribute to falls?

Diabetes and Falls in the Elderly

If you have ever experienced an episode of low blood sugar, you understand how diabetes can contribute to safety concerns and falls.

With low blood sugar comes dizziness, weakness, nausea and sweating. Vision can become altered, level of consciousness can lessen, and our ability to walk safely is then also effected, due to changes in our equilibrium.

For those with diabetes, especially in a care setting such as a Nursing Home or Assisted Living Facility, blood glucose testing is one of the first steps taken for evaluating the cause of falls. Though there are many reasons that an elderly person may fall, best practice dictates ruling out the most simple causes, first. In the case of the diabetic patient, low blood sugar is at the top of the list and easily assessed, using a glucometer.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is defined as a blood glucose less than 80 mg/dl. Some persons may not develop symptoms until their sugar is much lower. Repeated episodes of hypoglycemia warrant evaluation by a physician and may require adjustments in your anti-diabetic medications or insulin.

Plan ahead for your safety:
* keep an emergency kit of glucose for
use when you feel your blood sugar
* respect your body and do not try to
walk "just a little farther," go to
the bathroom or any other activity if
you feel that your blood sugar may be
low - treat then resume your activity
* educate your family and friends about
your disease so that they can provide
assistance in the event that you do
fall, or fear that you might
* notify your physician of any falls,
or episodes of low blood sugar, so
that he can appropriately treat you

Be safe - know your body, know your disease, know how to respond to low blood sugar to prevent falls!



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