Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body processes food, especially sugar. Many seniors have a form of diabetes, which can become serious if it isn’t managed. Learn basic facts about diabetes prevention and management.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. While type 2 is much more common, especially among aging adults, type 1 diabetes can also affect seniors.
Type 1 Diabetes
- Diagnosed with a blood test
- Checked on through regular blood sugar tests
- May require regular insulin injections or a pump
Type 2 Diabetes
- Sometimes preventable
- Diagnosed with a blood test
- Checked on through periodic blood sugar tests
- Often manageable by lifestyle and diet changes; may require medication
For seniors with type 1 diabetes, care should continue as normal. Caregivers should pay special attention for symptoms of hypoglycemia and take care to help seniors manage their disease as common parts of aging, like memory loss or lack of routine, increase the difficulty of maintaining a healthy state.
About Type 2 Diabetes and Seniors
- Feeling tired
- Being unusually hungry or thirsty
- Accidental weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Skin infections
- Healing slowly from cuts and bruises
Blood tests can diagnose diabetes and sometimes even show signs of prediabetes. Seniors should be screened for diabetes at annual appointments and ask a doctor for blood tests if symptoms develop.
Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors
Seniors are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes if they:
- Are over 65 years old
- Are overweight
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Are sedentary
- Had gestational diabetes while pregnant
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Many people can lower their risk of type 2 diabetes by making lifestyle changes like:
- Losing weight
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating a healthy diet
- Taking prescriptions as recommended by a doctor
Seniors should take prevention very seriously if they are told they have prediabetes, which predisposes them to develop the disease.
Type 2 Diabetes Management
- See a dietician for help with meal planning for a healthier diet
- Get regular exercise (personal training is often discounted for seniors)
- Track glucose levels with blood tests as directed by a doctor
- Lose weight if obesity is contributing to the disease
- Choose a healthy lifestyle to decrease risks associated with diabetes like stroke (stop smoking, get more sleep, attend annual physical exams)
In some cases, medication is part of type 2 diabetes management. Ask a doctor if any medications could be helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes from worsening. Be sure a senior’s caregiving team is in sync concerning diabetes care to keep blood sugar levels healthy
Home Care Tip: Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be discouraging for seniors. The risks of worsening diabetes are serious: people sometimes require amputations. Be supportive and understanding. Find a support group or classes about type 2 diabetes to help seniors stay positive and make healthy choices.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.