Disclaimer: The special procedures presented in this module should be performed only after you learn them from a medical practitioner. Make sure you have practiced well before performing these procedures on the person under your care.
If the elder under your care has diabetes, the doctor may have prescribed them insulin injections to keep their blood sugar level under control.
Insulin needs to be injected and cannot be taken orally because the body's digestive juices destroy it. The frequency and timing of these injections are also prescribed by the doctor. Insulin injections are usually given at least once a day.
With the spread of diabetes over the last few decades, several methods and devices have been developed so that insulin can be injected easily, even by the patient themselves. Let us learn about these methods and how you can give an insulin shot to the elder under your care.
The two main methods of giving an insulin shot are using a syringe and insulin bottle and using an insulin pen.
Using a syringe is the most inexpensive method. However, it requires you to load the correct amount of insulin from the bottle into the syringe.
On the other hand, an insulin pen is more expensive but is easier to use and carry. You do not need to load the dose as in a syringe before the shot. You can easily specify the dose by turning a screw.
There are two types of insulin pens, disposable and reusable. The reusable pen costs lesser, as you can change the insulin cartridge when it gets over. On the other hand, when the insulin gets finished in a disposable pen, you need to buy another pen.
Before choosing a method for giving the insulin shot, discuss it with the elder's family and doctor.
An insulin shot can be given in the upper outer arm, abdomen, or outer thighs.
Let us first learn how to give an insulin shot using a syringe. You will need the prescribed insulin bottle and a syringe, which has a needle, syringe with markings, and the plunger.
Before you begin, check the bottle label to ensure it is the prescribed insulin and has not expired.
Also make sure that the last marking on the syringe and the number written on the insulin bottle match. For example, if the number written on the bottle and the last marking on the syringe are both 40, you can use the bottle and syringe together.
Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry them well.
Open the insulin bottle. Snap off the plastic cap to reveal a rubber top.
Use an alcohol swab to clean the rubber top.
Take the cap off the syringe. Pull the plunger down equal to the prescribed dose of the insulin, say 20 units.
Insert the needle of the syringe through the rubber top of the insulin bottle.
Push the plunger completely down to push in the air into the bottle. In this case, 20 units of air are pushed into the bottle.
Turn the bottle upside down. The needle is now inside the liquid in the bottle.
Pull the plunger again up to the prescribed dose, which is 20 units in our example.
Remove the needle.
Double-check the syringe to ensure you have the prescribed dose in the syringe.
Now clean the injection site. Wipe the area with a clean, damp cotton swab.
Note that the needle needs to be injected into the subcutaneous layer. Pinch the skin to ensure you are injecting into the subcutaneous layer and not muscle.
Push the needle into the skin and push the plunger down completely.
Pull out the needle.
Close the lid of the bottle and store it in the refrigerator till the next use.
Note that although it is recommended that you change the needle after every use, many people use the syringe for three to six times before changing it. When reusing, do not let the needle touch any unrequired surfaces. Keep the needle capped when you are not using it. Reuse a needle only on the same person. If the needle seems dull or bent, you must change it immediately. To ensure the syringe is not misused, before discarding it, remember to cut the needle.