By Melissa Lampert, KHTS Staff Writer
Oakmont Senior Living officials are gearing up to launch their innovative and highly successful diabetic wellness program at a brand new community set to open later this year or in early 2016, Oakmont of Santa Clarita.
The four-part program is expected to be the first of its kind in the Santa Clarita Valley, and will be available on-site to all Oakmont residents living with diabetes.
“We have pioneered a diabetic wellness program that has been so successful at our Oakmonts,” said Executive Director Margie Veis. “(It’s) very unique, and I can say that out in Santa Clarita there is nothing like that.”
The first part of the program focuses on a proper diet, with menu items deemed “diabetic friendly” highlighted by an image of an oak leaf for easy viewing.
“It helps our residents keep that independence but make good choices,” Veis said. “But they are not forced, so if you want that cheesecake we are going to serve you that cheesecake. But then we have that nurse and the trained staff on-site that’s going to be looking to see, are we now seeing signs of high blood sugar?”
The on-site nurse will also help program members monitor their blood sugar levels, which Veis said can be “very daunting,” and determine their proper insulin dose.
“Many people are on what’s called a sliding scale,” Veis explained. “So it varies depending on what their blood sugar is.”
Unlike most assisted living communities, Oakmont’s nurse can also administer insulin to seniors who can’t do it themselves.
“The way we are regulated, a licensed professional has to do it if you can’t do it yourself,” Veis said. “So you take a senior that has maybe some mild cognitive impairment, or maybe they have dementia and they need to draw insulin and inject it; if they can’t do it themselves in a lot of other senior livings, they need to move out. Well at Oakmont, our nurse can step in and do that.”
The program will also help seniors with diabetes control their blood sugar levels through daily exercise programs, which will be lead by staff members or designed to be self-lead, according to Veis.
Last, program staff will host regular support groups that can help seniors cope with their disease and offer diabetes education to both the senior and their family members.
“Diabetes affects the entire body,” Veis said. “It affects the person, but it also affects family members, so education is important.”
In addition to helping seniors manage their diabetes and live healthy lives, the staff at Oakmont of Santa Clarita can also help bring peace of mind to residents’ family members who know their loved one is being monitored by experienced and compassionate professionals.
“Is your mom eating, has there been a change in cognition? Are we noticing that maybe she’s not wearing her lipstick anymore, she doesn’t want to go to the beauty shop anymore? Those are signs that something is going on,” Veis said. “You as a daughter can’t be there all the time, so it’s being done for you.
“And the resident isn’t even aware that it’s happening– they’re busy being engaged with their activities and living a purposeful life. But you have staff around them 24 hours a day that are trained to be looking for those signs, and then we have the staff there to address those needs.”
For more information about Oakmont of Santa Clarita, click here.