Last Updated on December 23, 2022
Diabetes is a very serious, and also common disease, especially among older people. Often it can be helped with some lifestyle changes, but you want to make sure you know everything you can as a senior with diabetes. Often diabetes is a lifelong condition and your current habits and lifestyle is probably what led you to it in the first place.
Developing new habits and improving your health can help your diabetes and symptoms tremendously. Not to mention that you can increase life expectancy by controlling your condition. If you are living in a retirement community or have help from a caregiver, they can also help you with little things like reminders to take your medicine and more.
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Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:
What is Diabetes?
When we eat most foods, our body goes through a process to turn them into a sugar called glucose. Then our body uses a hormone produced by the pancreas called insulin to turn that glucose into energy. Insulin’s main job in the body is to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood, and a lack of natural insulin is what causes diabetes. For people who have diabetes, synthetic or animal-based insulin is used to replace what they do not produce regularly. Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects around 37.3 million Americans.
There are three major kinds of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes which occurs when a person is pregnant. Experts believe that type one diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response, which is when the body attacks itself by accident. This autoimmune reaction causes your body to stop producing insulin, and the symptoms usually develop fairly fast. When adults or children have type 1 diabetes, they take insulin every day to live.
On the other hand, type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t use the insulin it has properly and therefore a person’s blood sugar levels will spike or drop. Type 2 diabetes makes up almost the entirety of people with diabetes, with about 90-95% of diabetic adults having type 2 diabetes. For some people, type 2 diabetes can be prevented, but it is common for older adults to develop type 2 diabetes from unhealthy habits. Losing weight, eating healthy, and having a regular exercise plan are all good ways to try to remedy type 2 diabetes.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
Although Type 2 diabetes is not the same as type 1, but it still might be managed with insulin each day. For seniors who are moving away from independent living, it is especially important to make sure that the caregivers in their lives know about their diabetes needs. In addition to insulin injections for diabetes pills, the conditions that caused diabetes may also have caused other issues. Often seniors with diabetes will have to manage other conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
In addition to medication, once you know that you have type 2 diabetes there are also ways that you can change your habits to improve the condition and prevent it from getting worse. Exercising and eating healthier in general and in an effort to lose weight are great ways to improve your condition, and later in life, this is especially important.
Building a Healthier Lifestyle
Living in a senior care community or facility is a great time to get into healthier habits, and you probably have a lot of resources available to help you. If you are looking for a way to start exercising, going for a walk is a great place to start. If you live in a community you can walk around that, or drive to a nearby park. Having someone to walk with you like a neighbor or friend will help keep you entertained and it can motivate you to actually go. Many senior home facilities have gyms and even swimming pools that you can use.
Additionally, if you have a caregiver or someone who helps you with your meals, make them aware of your desire to change your diet. They can not only help you prepare this food but also how to incorporate more healthy foods and get rid of the ones that could be contributing to your diabetes. Eating more fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and less processed foods will help you correct your health.
Aside from making healthy lifestyle changes there are also certain medical aspects to having diabetes that you need to pay attention to such as medication and glucose levels.
Don’t Miss Medication
It can be difficult to remember to take any medication, but the consequences of missing a dose of diabetes medication can be very serious. In some cases, pills can be prescribed to help with type 2 diabetes, but in order for them to work the pancreas needs to still produce some insulin. In addition to pills, many people with diabetes also inject themselves with insulin each day to maintain a healthy blood glucose level.
Check Glucose Often
Another important aspect of managing your diabetes is to check your glucose levels regularly. Your healthcare provider will tell you more specifically how often you need to check your levels. While taking diabetes medication, older adults are at a higher risk than others for hypoglycemia, which is also called low blood sugar.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia include dizziness, hunger, sweating, and confusion. Older individuals are more prone to fall down, and being dizzy and confused only increases this risk. To prevent this from happening it is important to check your blood sugar often.
Pay Attention to Your Feet
While this might seem silly, your feet actually have a lot more to do with your diabetes than you think. Over time diabetes can damage nerves and reduce blood flow, causing serious foot problems. One out of every five diabetes patients who go to the hospital go for foot related problems.
You should check your feet every day for any cuts or signs of infection. If you have trouble seeing your feet you can use a mirror or ask someone for help. Keeping your feet clean and avoiding dryness is super important for making sure that nothing has the opportunity to become infected. If you do see a red patch or a cut call your doctor immediately.
Desiree is a research journalist working performing her duties as chief editor at this news station. She is a talented writer and comes up with facts everybody wants to know.