Aging & Diabetes: How Older Adults Can Manage This Difficult Combination
As we age, it becomes increasingly important to take care of our health and well-being. Unfortunately, aging combined with diabetes can be a difficult combination to manage. Diabetes affects nearly 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 and is the 7th leading cause of death across the nation. Yet it doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your loved ones – with the right plan and knowledge, older adults can deal with diabetes and age with the help of a doctor or health care team.
Knowledge is Power – Understanding Diabetes
The first step to managing aging and diabetes is understanding the condition itself. Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to process and absorb glucose, or blood sugar. When the body is unable to use the glucose, it begins to build up in the bloodstream and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. The two main types of diabetes are Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1, which usually occurs in younger people, is when the body attacks its own pancreas and unable to produce insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. Type 2 is often seen in older adults and adults, and is when the body becomes resistant to the insulin it already produces, requiring more medications to keep the blood sugar within a healthy range.
Taking Advantage of Medication and Treatment
Once you understand the basics, it is important to take advantage of medication and treatment options that are available. Many older adults are hesitant to take medications and often take a do-it-yourself approach. However, when it comes to diabetes, this can be dangerous. Medications must be managed and monitored by a health care professional. This includes medications that regulate blood sugar, those used to fight high blood pressure, and cholesterol-lowering medications which can all help lower the risk of diabetes-related complications.
Making Healthy Choices
In addition to medications and treatments, making healthy lifestyle choices is essential to managing aging & diabetes and living a full, healthy life. Eating healthy is more than just choosing nutritious foods – it’s also important to eat foods that are low in sugar and trans fat, and monitor your serving sizes. Exercise plays a key role in managing diabetes, as it helps lower blood sugar and can even reverse or prevent Type 2 Diabetes in some cases. Lastly, making sure to get enough rest every night is important – lack of sleep has been linked to higher blood sugar levels.
Support Systems and Professional Care
It is important that older adults facing aging & diabetes have support systems to help them stay on track with their diabetes management. Make sure to have friends and family that can check in on you and help you remember to take your medications and eat correctly. Enlisting a professional care team is also key – from doctors, nurses, and nutritionists, a professional team will help direct you with the needed changes and motivate you to lead a healthy life.
Aging with diabetes may be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible task. With the right understanding, medications, treatment, lifestyle choices, and support team, many older adults are leading healthy, vibrant lives.