Did you know that more than 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes? Although this number is startling, the number of seniors with diabetes is even higher, with nearly one out of four adults over the age of 65 diagnosed with diabetes and one in two with prediabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease and often a life-long condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar (glucose) or turns food into energy. The causes of diabetes can vary based on the type. However, it occurs when an individual’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal.
Seniors with diabetes have an increased risk of developing multiple conditions such as heart disease, nerve damage, kidney damage and eye damage. The truth is living with diabetes as a senior can present some serious risks and unique challenges.
Living with Diabetes
The good news is that you can still be active with diabetes. Diabetes care is essential and should be a priority for maintaining a healthy quality of life. Many lifestyle factors can play a role in the development of diabetes.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can manage diabetes and plenty of resources available for support. Simple lifestyle changes such as such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing physical activity, and eating a nutritious diet can have a positive impact on your health. Below are some helpful tips for seniors on managing diabetes.
- Maintain a Healthy Diet: The American Diabetes Association recommends seniors with diabetes maintain a healthy diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, less added sugar, less processed foods and plenty of foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Stay Active: The American Diabetes Association also recommends increasing physical activity. Try exercising 30 minutes each day, at least five days a week. Incorporate different types of exercise, such as aerobic exercise (such as walking or swimming), strength training (such as weights or resistance bands), flexibility exercises (like yoga or Pilates) and general daily activity (taking the stairs instead of the elevator).
- Preventive Care: Make sure you have a health care provider with whom you are comfortable and who is knowledgeable in managing diabetes.
- Monitor Your Blood Sugar: Monitoring your blood sugar regularly is an essential part of diabetes care. Your health care provider can show you how and when to check your blood glucose level.
- Always Take Your Medication: Managing medication can be challenging but is critical to your health. Missing medicines can upset your blood sugars. There are many devices that can help organize your pills, provide reminders, and ensure you are taking the right medication and the right time. If you’re taking a lot of prescription medications, Medical Alert offers our subscribers the Medical Alert Save-RX card to provide affordable access to prescription medications at discounts of up to 87% at over 67,000 pharmacies nationwide.
- Hearing Exams: Hearing loss is common as we age and even more so in seniors with diabetes. Seniors should have their hearing tested regularly and contact their health care provider if they have any trouble hearing.
- Eye Exams: Diabetes can also cause vision loss, but the good news is that about 90% of vision loss from diabetes can be prevented. Early detection is critical. It is recommended that seniors with diabetes should have annual eye exams before they have any signs of vision loss.
Diabetes is a complex chronic illness. For many patients, learning to live with diabetes can be challenging. Fortunately, new medications, screening techniques, and improved diagnostics and treatments can help contribute to a safer and healthier quality of life.
Investing in a Medical Alert system can also give you the peace of mind to live independently with this condition. If you experience a medical emergency of any kind, you can simply push your button to be connected to an emergency response operator who can get you the help you need.