Our bodies convert a large portion of the food we eat into glucose, a type of sugar that gives us energy. Our body requires insulin, a hormone that facilitates the entry of glucose into our cells, to use it as energy. If you have diabetes, your body might not produce enough insulin, not use it properly, or both. That may result in too much glucose remaining in the blood, which could eventually lead to health issues.
In the U.S., more than 130 million people have diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Pre-diabetes is present in nearly 50% of adults over the age of 65. At times, diabetes can feel like a silent illness, similar to high blood pressure, because its symptoms may not always be immediately apparent until something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, uncontrolled long-term complications of diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, hearing loss, skin infections, heart attacks, strokes, nerve damage, and more.
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes, namely Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes - but what’s the difference between the two?
Having Type 1 diabetes means that the body doesn’t produce insulin at all. It can often begin in childhood or early adulthood although seniors can develop this type of diabetes as well. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetes means that the body doesn’t make or use insulin as well as an average person. It is the most prevalent type of diabetes. Although it can affect kids, it most frequently affects middle-aged and older adults. If you are overweight, inactive, or have a family history of diabetes, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is higher.
Additionally, type 2 diabetes in later life is more likely to strike women who have a history of gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that manifests during pregnancy.
Managing Diabetes in Seniors
Caring for and managing this disease is not easy but it can be done. Here are some ways that can aid you in effectively managing diabetes in the elderly.
Be Physically Active
Walking and other daily forms of exercise can aid older diabetics in managing their glucose levels. Create a physical activity plan that works with your schedule and that you can stick to if you want to increase your level of activity most days of the week. Always carry emergency supplies like glucose tablets, water, and carb-rich snacks with you whenever you and your elderly partner exercise away from home. Another rule of thumb is to schedule exercise an hour or so after eating when blood sugar levels are typically higher.
Make Better Lifestyle Choices
Along with being physically active, eating healthy is important as well. It's crucial to understand what, when, and how much food is best for you to eat because it affects your glucose levels.
Educate Yourself about Your Loved One’s Condition
You'll have the knowledge and resources necessary to successfully tackle this disease with your older adult if you learn about it and how it is managed and treated. There is a wealth of knowledge about diabetes on reputable medical websites such as the Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, and the American Diabetes Association. Additionally, you might be able to find diabetes education classes at neighborhood hospitals or clinics that you and your elderly loved one can attend together.
Stress can cause blood sugar to spike and negatively affects people, especially those with diabetes. You can lessen stress for your senior loved one by practicing stress relief techniques such as getting a massage, learning a new hobby, meditation, or simple breathing exercises. Practicing these can benefit both the senior and the caregiver.
Be Consistent with Medicine
Even if you feel well, you still need to take your medication as directed. If you experience any side effects or are unable to pay for your medication, let your doctor know. Additionally, let your doctor know if you have any difficulties remembering to take your medication or adhering to your prescribed schedule. It is also important to talk to your doctor about any concerns that you may have.
The journey of managing diabetes is long and can often feel difficult but with patience and consistency, it will eventually feel easier. Seniors may need extra assistance when dealing with this condition and hiring a professional to aid you in shouldering responsibilities is never a bad thing.
Do You Need Assistance?
Unified Pledge Home Health provides a FREE consultation. Talk to them about your situation and explore your options.
A reputable home health agency will perform a complementary in-home care assessment done by a registered nurse. In doing so, they can create a personalized health care plan. Additionally, they also provide a high level of service for skilled medical care based on the physician's order.
Hiring professionals from Unified Pledge comes with the following advantages:
Level II FBI background checks of all staff
Driving history checks
Constant communication to patients, family, and care team
Registered Nurse supervision is ongoing with every care plan