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Here’s how you can and must take care of your diabetic parents during covid-19

Updated on:15 May 2020, 17:49pm IST
It is more important than ever that we make sure our parents, especially above 60 years of age, are managing their diabetes through dietary and lifestyle changes.
Poulami Kundu
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Sattu shall cure all your diabetes woes away. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Coronavirus came into our lives a few months ago and by now, it has wreaked havoc given the high number of people infected. But what really scares people with parents above 60 years of age is that, according to medical professionals, the virus can be fatal for the elderly.

Doctors worldwide are of the opinion that older adults (over 60 years), especially with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes (more so, if poorly-controlled), hypertension, and heart disease are the most vulnerable to the virus. The infection’s principal target being the lungs, people with chronic lung disease are also susceptible.

Dr. Anil Bhansali, professor and head, department of endocrinology at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh, says older diabetic patients are at higher risk of poor outcomes as they have an impaired immune system.

According to Dr Bhansali:

Autopsy reports of diabetic patients, who died after getting infected with COVID-19, suggest that such patients end up suffering from vascular thrombosis (their blood vessels get blocked).

He says the novel coronavirus ends up causing injury to the blood vessels of older patients with pre-existing illnesses and hence, is even more dangerous to them.

Here are a few things you should ask them to be careful about, according to our expert:

1. Watch their diet
Dr. Bhansali says that the diet of diabetic patients has gone for a toss amid lockdown. According to him, people have started opting for processed food items and have increased their number of meals which can affect the blood sugar levels immensely. Hence, there has to be a focus on sticking to a healthy diet.

2. Glycemic control is more important than ever
He says the physical activity of patients with diabetes has gone down. He suggests it is important to realize that we have to learn to live with coronavirus while also introducing lifestyle changes accordingly.

type 2 diabetes
Ensure that your parents blood sugar levels are under control. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

3. Indoor exercises can be as effective as outdoor exercises
Dr Bhansali says: “We are at the second peak of the pandemic and we are going to reach a plateau. Older people with pre-existing conditions should stay indoors and adopt preventive measures even after lockdown is relaxed. They can opt for static cycling, yoga and other forms of indoor exercises as these carry the same rewards.”

4. Elders should learn to manage diabetes at home
Dr Bhansali says diabetics should stick to their medicine schedules and eating patterns.

tips to protect old people from covid-19
More than just masks, you should ensure that your parents are also managing their pre-existing health conditions well. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Monitor blood sugar levels frequently
People who need several insulin injections in a should check their blood sugar levels throughout the day. Those who need one insulin injection per day should check their glucose levels once a day; and those on oral medication can check their blood sugar levels four times in a week, suggests Dr Bhansali

6. Keep in touch with your doctor
Dr. Bhabani Prasad Chakravarty, medical director at Healthcity Hospital in Guwahati, and former professor and head, department of medicine at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital says it is very important to keep in touch with your doctor digitally. He says diabetics should get their doses checked regularly according to fluctuation in their glucose levels.

Diabetes is an illness that can be managed only if one keeps a strict check on it through lifestyle as well as dietary changes. It is even more important to manage it now in the middle of this pandemic to make sure all our family members are safe.

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Poulami Kundu Poulami Kundu

Poulami Kundu works with the editorial team of HT Chandigarh. She writes about culture, health and education.