A diagnosis of diabetes is serious and becomes increasingly prevalent in older adults. The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases with age and is a genuine concern amongst Seniors. Here are facts for Seniors regarding diabetes, its prevention, and how to manage it.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes occurs when the hormone insulin is no longer produced effectively by the pancreas.
Insulin helps transfer sugar from the bloodstream to various cells for energy conversion. Abnormal blood sugar levels occur when insulin levels are not properly dispersed. Diabetes then results.
Two types of diabetes exist, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is a chronic condition where insulin is not produced by the pancreas, or if at all, very little. This type commonly occurs in a younger populace. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by a combination of hyperglycemia (excess blood sugar) and insulin resistance. Older adults and overweight people are more susceptible to this form of diabetes
How to Prevent it
The following characteristics increase the chance of being diagnosed with diabetes:
- Extra weight – Insulin resistance increases with excess fatty tissue. Diabetes is more probable in those who are overweight.
- Family history – People with a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes are more predisposed to develop the disease themselves. Diabetes is not hereditary but the probability of being diagnosed with it exists in genetic makeup.
- Age – Risks of developing diabetes increase as the body stops functioning as well as it did in younger years. Age may cause the pancreas to slow its insulin breakdown, start to fail, and then result in diabetes.
Many Seniors have “prediabetes” where glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as actual diabetes. Prediabetes indicates a higher risk of developing diabetes but is preventable.
- Losing weight, as well as choosing a healthier diet and being physically active, helps to prevent or slow the onset of diabetes.
- Quitting smoking helps avoid diabetes, as smokers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers.
- Eliminating stress has also been proven to help mitigate the risk of diabetes and prevent or delay the disease naturally. Practice meditation or yoga to help decrease stress and improve overall well-being.
How Seniors Manage Diabetes
Seniors with diabetes are able to manage their diagnosis in various ways to lessen their complications and symptoms. The following steps may be used to help manage diabetes:
- Manage blood pressure & cholesterol – Diabetes may cause high blood pressure and cholesterol, either of which if left untreated could cause further complications. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be checked annually to prevent heart problems and other health issues.
- Stop smoking – Smoking cessation helps reduce symptoms. If you are not able to do this alone, enlist the help of a professional.
- Have yearly eye exams – High blood sugar pulls fluids from the body’s tissues, including the eyes. Finding and treating eye problems early helps to protect the retina and keep eyes healthy.
- Check kidneys every year – Kidneys work to filter and absorb the sugar buildup in the blood and when unable to function properly will excrete sugar into urine and draw fluid from body tissue. Close monitoring of your kidneys through blood and urine tests helps to prevent complications or kidney failure.
- Keep vaccinations current – Type 2 diabetes affects the immune system. A yearly flu shot is important to stay healthy during flu season. If over the age of 65 be sure to have a pneumonia vaccine. Ask your doctor if you are properly protected.
- Practice good oral hygiene – Brush teeth and floss daily. Have teeth and gums checked twice a year by a dentist to avoid serious problems.
- Take care of your feet – Take time to look at your feet every day for red patches. Ask someone else to check your feet if you find this activity difficult. Sores, blisters, skin breaks, infections, or a build-up of calluses are a sign you need to consult a podiatrist.
How does diabetes affect Bridge to Better Living? We care about your health. If you need assistance handling the effects of diabetes or other diagnoses, Bridge to Better Living knows the best communities to fit your needs. Options exist to help Seniors choose a wonderful quality of life. Bridge to Better Living is always available to help guide you to the best resources. YOU are never alone. Contact Bridge to Better Living now.