Living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes usually requires care that is universal to all age groups. However, some people may find that there are specific changes that occur as they get older that affect their diabetes. This means that sometimes, recommendations around creating a suitable diabetic meal plan for older people can vary from more general advice.
It is essential for older people with diabetes to eat well and regularly. Not doing so may lead to hypoglycaemia, or a hypo, where a person’s blood sugar is too low – this often causes trembling, sweating, headaches, a lack of concentration and heart palpitations. Living with diabetes does not always lead to hypos, so it’s important to keep the balance of diabetes medication, food and physical activity at the right level to keep them at bay.
When it comes to retirees in care homes, it is essential that the most appropriate meal plan is formed by team members to ensure that all residents live well with any condition they may have. Often, people with diabetes are advised to reduce the levels of fat, salt and sugar in their diet – however, we know that older care home residents are more likely to be underweight than overweight and face high rates of undernutrition. Therefore, it might not always be the best idea to encourage this kind of diet, especially when it might be light on calories.
Individual care plans for those living with diabetes should also consider nutritional assessments and diet. These should respect personal food preferences whilst ensuring team members are trained and prepared to support the specific needs of residents with diabetes.
Retirees with diabetes are still able to enjoy a tasty and enjoyable diabetic meal plan that includes a wide range of foods from across the food groups. Of course, making healthy food choices can be difficult for older people with diabetic restrictions, but by controlling portion size, sticking to regular mealtimes and eating a variety of good foods, blood sugar levels can be kept within a healthy range.
Preparing diabetes-friendly food usually leads to the first step of following useful diabetic meal planning guidelines. These can either be developed by care home staff for residents or by retirees themselves and their families to follow at home. A popular diabetic meal plan is to prepare foods using the Diabetes Food Pyramid, which divides foods into the following six groups: breads, grains and starches; vegetables; fruit; meat and proteins; dairy; and fat, oils and sweets. Planned meals should use more foods from the top of the pyramid and as little as possible from the bottom in order to balance blood sugar levels.
Of course, what this diabetic meal plan shows is that eating well with diabetes does not need to mean completely avoiding sugar and sweet treats. Older people can still enjoy their favourite snacks or desserts in moderation and keep their sweet tooth happy with measures such as: serving half of a favourite pudding alongside fruit, replacing milk chocolate with dark chocolate or sprinkling cinnamon on desserts rather than sugar.
Websites such as Diabetes UK contain lots of useful advice on specific meal idea to incorporate into a diabetic meal plan, such as vegetable soup, pasta, fruit sundaes and porridge, as well as their own meal planners and recipe finders.
For retirees living with diabetes who may benefit from living in a care home, Sunrise Senior Living UK provides personalised senior care and lifestyle services to help people live their best life.
View the full list of Sunrise care homes here to find your nearest location.