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Diabetes End-of-Life Signs

When it comes to treating diabetes at the end-of-life, hospice’s goal is to keep the patient as comfortable as possible rather than focusing on trying to keep glucose levels within the target range. While individuals can be and are admitted to hospice with the diagnosis of diabetes, as with most diseases, it’s more common that diabetes is part of a comorbidity, meaning the patient has diabetes but also has some other life-limiting diseases and secondary conditions.

Still, it’s important that, as a family caregiver, you know the signs and symptoms of diabetes at the end-of-life, as well as what complications may arise.

What are the signs of end-of-life due to diabetes?

Diabetes at the end-of-life can lead to several life affecting complications but being able to recognize the signs of high and low blood glucose (blood sugars) can help avoid these complications. If you recognize any of the following end-of-life diabetes signs, please contact the patient’s primary care physician or hospice care provider.

Signs of high blood glucose include:

  • using the bathroom frequently
  • increased drowsiness
  • infections
  • increased thirst
  • increased hunger
  • itching
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • numbness in fingers/toes
  • wounds that are slow to heal

Signs of low blood glucose include:

  • Feeling irritable or anxious
  • Trembling and sweating
  • Paleness
  • Palpitations
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating

Tips for managing end-of-life Diabetes symptoms.

Keeping blood glucose levels within the target range may be difficult during this time and therefore is not as much of a priority at the end-of-life. Instead, you’ll ideally want to focus on the patient’s comfort, and doing what you can to manage the immediate symptoms associated with diabetes and accompanying comorbid and secondary conditions rather than worry about keeping blood sugars within a certain range.

What you can do for your loved one.

Being present for your loved one in their time of need is one of the most important things you can do. Sometimes just being a comforting presence to your loved one is enough. As a family caregiver, you can also make sure to pay attention for the signs of end-of-life diabetes and report them to your loved one’s medical service providers.

How hospice can help with end-stage Diabetes.

Hospice supports not just the patient, but the family and family caregiver, by providing a number of different services that help satisfy their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

The Crossroads team consists of doctors, nurses, aides, social workers, and volunteers ready to help. If you would like to learn more, please select one of the contact options from the blue Help Center bar to speak with someone 24/7.

How can you predict the end of life? Download a free guide.

End-of-Life signs by disease.

Learn about the specific end-of-life signs of common diseases and illnesses:

More end-of-life resources.