If you have diabetes, testing your blood glucose level regularly can help you check how well you’re controlling your blood sugar level. You can monitor your blood glucose levels at home using a glucometer.
1) Frequency of monitoring
Your doctor will advise you how frequent you should check your blood sugar level. It generally depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. For instance, more frequent monitoring is required when there is a change in the dosage of oral diabetic medications, insulin, or if the elderly is on steroids medications.
2) Selecting a suitable glucometer
There are many varieties of glucometers available in the market. Besides selecting one based on the price, you should consider the needs of those who are using it. If the elderly has poor vision or difficulty handling small test strips, and there is no caregiver to help them monitor their blood glucose levels, they can purchase glucometers with bigger display screens and use test strips that are slightly bigger in size. Before purchasing a glucometer, find out where you can purchase the same test strips and batteries used for the glucometer, when you need to replace them.
3) Ensuring accurate blood glucose readings
It is important to run a control test for the blood glucometer to get accurate blood glucose readings. Follow the instructions that come with your glucometer. Also check the expiry date on the test strips bottle as expired test strips may affect blood glucose readings.
4) Handling of test strips
Before handling the test strips, you should wash your hands with soap and water and dry your hands before touching the strips. After removing the test strip from the container, quickly close the lid of the container and use the test strip as exposure to the environment may alter the test strip. The container should strictly be used to store test strips and be kept in a cool place.
5) Choosing an appropriate lancet and penetration depth
Each blood glucometer comes with lancets of various sizes and types. Choose an appropriate one based on the thickness of the elderly’s skin. For lancets in a bullet form loaded in a pen, you should determine the correct depth setting to use when pricking your fingers. Use a lower setting for elderly with thin and sensitive skin, and a higher setting if you have thick callouses on your skin. You only require a very small sample of blood on the test strips to do the test.
Prick the sides of the elderly’s fingers as it is less painful than pricking the fingertips.
6) Vary the areas of blood sugar testing
You are encouraged to vary the areas where you prick your finger as pricking the same spot thickens the skin and you will need to readjust the pricking depth in future.
7) Using and disposing of lancets
Use a new lancet every time to avoid contamination. Also, used lancets are not as sharp as new lancets and can cause more pain when pricking the skin. Always dispose used lancets into an unused sharp objects container or plastic bottle and dispose the container once it is full. This prevents you and others from being pricked accidentally.
Do you or your elderly family member need help with blood glucose monitoring, administering insulin injections or managing diabetes? Download the Carer app and use it to hire an experienced nurse or care aide, or call us to find out more. You can also read more tips on the Carer app.
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This article is contributed by our freelance nurse who is an expert in diabetes care.