Seniors and Diabetes

Donna Mae Scheib

Seniors and Diabetes

Posted by Donna Mae Scheib on December 04, 2018

Seniors and Diabetes

According to the American Diabetes Association, one in four Americans over the age of 60 has diabetes and research suggests that one in three adults have prediabetes (though 9 out of 10 are not aware of it). There are around 1.4 million new cases of diabetes that are diagnosed in the United States each year. Generally speaking, Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise and the chance of developing it increases, as we get older. Being aware of what diabetes is and how to recognize symptoms helps to prevent health problems often associated with diabetes such as

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Foot, mouth, or eye problems

Diabetes, or also called Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that forms when the body's ability to produce insulin is impaired, and this results in the abnormal breakdown (metabolizing) of carbohydrates, and high levels of sugar (glucose) enters the bloodstream. Some of the common types of diabetes include:

Type 2 Diabetes: This type of diabetes is when your body either does not make insulin or does not use insulin well. This can form at any age and is the most common type of diabetes and accounts for around 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed diabetes in adults. 

Type 1 Diabetes: This type of diabetes is when your body does not produce insulin and people with this disease must take insulin daily to stay alive. This is most commonly diagnosed in children and young adults. 

Prediabetes: This is very common in the United States (86 million Americans) and it is when your blood sugar levels are higher than it should be, though it is not at the full out diabetic level. 

Gestational Diabetes: This form of diabetes may develop in some women when they are pregnant. It often disappears after the baby is born, but it also greatly increases the woman's chance of developing type two diabetes later in life.  

Recognizing Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is most likely to develop if you are over the age of 45, you are overweight, physically inactive, or have a family history of diabetes.

 Because this is the most common form of diabetes and the most prevalent among older adults, let's look at some of the common symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes listed by the Mayo Clinic: 

Fatigue: When the cells of your body lack the sugar necessary to function properly, you become tired.

Blurred Vision: Too much sugar in your blood leads to the fluid being pulled from your lens and makes it hard to focus.

Dark Patches of Skin: A condition also called acanthosis nigricans, in which dark, velvety patches of skin often located in folds in your body such as the neck or armpit is a sign of insulin resistance

 Slow-Healing Wounds: Your body is less able to heal your sores. 

Weight Loss: When your body is not able to properly metabolize your carbohydrate sources, it turns to muscle and fat for energy burners and the excess sugar are expelled from the body through urination. 

Increase Thirst and Hunger: High blood sugar leads to the fluid being pulled from the tissues that result in thirst and hunger. 

How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Living with diabetes is often a daily battle of managing the way you eat, what physical activity you partake in (if you can), and sometimes even daily injections of insulin to maintain blood sugar levels. Taking steps of prevention, especially if you have high blood sugar, or other prediabetic symptoms may help stop you from walking down the diabetic path. 

Lose weight: If you are overweight it is suggested by the Diabetic Prevention Program to lose between 5 to 7 % of your current weight. 

Be Active: Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week. 

Choose Healthier Options: Drink water instead of sugary beverages. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Try eating more frequently throughout the day to avoid heavy meals and instead eat healthier in smaller quantities. 

Make a Change:  The Center for Disease Control also suggests a one-year long prevention lifestyle change program for those with prediabetes to help learn healthier habits. 

 Stress Less: Try looking at areas in your life that are causing you to stress and see if you can find a solution to the problem or to just get rid of the problem if it's not important to you. 

Can you think of specific ways that would help with preventing Type 2 diabetes? Have any ideas for managing it if you are diagnosed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us at Senior Living Link!

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