The four-part program would be the first of its kind in the Santa Clarita Valley, and would 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 is centered around diet, with menu items evaluated as “diabetic friendly” highlighted with an image of an oak leaf beside them.
“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 assist members of the program with monitoring their blood sugar levels, which Veis said can be “very daunting” to some seniors, and determining the proper dose of insulin.
“Many people are on what’s called a sliding scale,” Veis explained. “So it varies depending on what their blood sugar is.
Unlike most senior living facilities, Oakmont’s nurse is also able to administer insulin for seniors who are unable to 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.”
Another aspect of the program is exercise, which helps diabetics control their blood sugar levels. Exercise programs lead by staff members or designed to be self-lead will be scheduled daily as part of the wellness program, according to Veis.
The last part of the program is 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 all 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.”