Colds and other ailments can complicate routine medical treatment for elderly

SEELOW, BRANDENBURG - AUGUST 08:  Country doct...

A doctor measures the blood sugar level of an elderly patient.

I recently returned from a business trip to find my mom sick with a nasty cold.  As with young kids, you always have to pay special attention to elderly people when they are sick because most have other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or even some coronary or bronchial condition that may complicate their recovery.

My mom has several complications but I  keep a close eye on her diabetes, especially if she’s not eating or has been vomiting. Her doctor has told me to frequently check her blood glucose, or “Sugar” as I was raised hearing it called, to make sure her glucose level doesn’t get to low.  If it does, I’ve been told to decrease the amount of insulin she takes while she’s sick and on a few occasions I’ve been told to withhold it altogether. Like many medicines, insulin needs something to counteract its affect and if my mom isn’t eating much or  vomiting what she has eaten, her usual dose of insulin could cause her blood sugar to plummet and lead to serious medical issues.

Of course Mom hates getting her finger pricked to get the blood, but better safe than sorry.  Also we use Embrace Blood Glucose Monitoring System, which administers a milder prick and also allows me to take blood from Mom’s forearm or someplace else that won’t hurt as much.  I also like that you don’t have to code the system when you begin using a new box of test strips, and that the machine talks allowing users with limited or no vision to check their own glucose levels.

I’d love to know if you have had similar advice or other suggestions from your physician about caring for your elderly parents when they are sick.






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I'm a working wife and mom who takes care of an aging parent. Only I began doing it full-time, in my home, when I was in my mid-thirties, single and about to make a career change. Thirteen years later, mom is still living with me and I expect it to be that way until one of us leaves this earth. It hasn't always been easy managing her care. (I've helped my mother recover from surgery, and a major injury that required a nursing home stay, as well as the death of my younger brother after a long illness.) But caring for her has been worth it because I know that my assistance means she enjoys a better quality of life as she ages. I hope the experiences and information that I share will help you manage,with grace, the changes that take place in your life as you assume the responsibility of being your parent's caregiver. If you have a question you think I can answer, please contact me at

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