Here in the United States, diabetes continues to be a prevalent disease amongst the senior population. Millions of seniors around the country have this condition, with many of them unaware of their diagnosis. If left untreated, diabetes-related complications such as hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), kidney failure, and heart disease can arise. The elderly population is at a higher risk for diabetes due to a range of factors such as aging, slow metabolism, low levels of physical activity, and weight gain.
As our population and communities continue to get older with time, seniors and their loved ones need to understand what it takes to manage diabetes as successfully as possible. Fortunately, with proper management, seniors with diabetes can still enjoy their lives and preserve their health. To help in this regard, we have written some tips that can help do just that. Keep reading to learn more!
Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of Diabetes
Many seniors with diabetes are undiagnosed because they do not know how to recognize the symptoms of this condition. Some people have such mild symptoms that they can even go unnoticed for long periods.
Review the common symptoms of diabetes (type 1 and type 2) below to boost the chances of early detection and treatment:
High levels of thirst
Feeling very hungry often
Slow healing from cuts or bruises
Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (type 2)
Weight loss - even though you are eating more (type 1)
Physical Activity for Seniors with Diabetes
Getting regular physical activity is an important element of managing diabetes successfully. Movement helps the body better manage blood sugar levels and prevent unwanted spikes in glucose that can cause damage. Seniors who regularly partake in physical activity can look forward to a range of health benefits to both their physical and mental health. Light walking is a great way to get started and can be done alone, with a pet, or with loved ones.
For seniors in Los Angeles, going on a light hike or walking along the beach can be a fun way to get outdoors, get moving, and relieve stress all at the same time. Small changes make a difference in a senior's ability to manage diabetes. The important thing is to establish a routine and take small steps toward adopting an active lifestyle.
Take Steps to Protect Your Vision
Seniors with diabetes need to pay extra attention to their eye health to avoid damage to their vision. Without proper management, high blood sugar levels can lead to damaged blood vessels in the eye and a condition known as diabetic eye disease. Two common types of vision loss related to diabetes are macular edema and retinopathy. Symptoms can include cloudy vision, trouble seeing at night, loss of peripheral vision, and double vision.
Fortunately for seniors with diabetes, an annual dilated eye exam can make it possible to catch eye problems early. A comprehensive eye exam with dilation involves a thorough examination of the eye that can detect problems that may have no signs or symptoms. By detecting problems early, seniors can boost the likelihood of successful treatment and reduce their chances of developing vision loss.
Try the Diabetes Plate Method
Eating healthy is very important for seniors with diabetes, as the right food choices can make it easier to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Choosing the right ingredients is essential in this regard.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
Focus on fruits and vegetables
Consume lean meats and plant-based sources of protein
Don’t add lots of sugar
Eat less processed foods
Understanding how much to eat is also very important for seniors with diabetes. The Diabetes Plate Method can be helpful in this regard, as it makes it easy to plan portions without counting, calculating, or measuring. On a nine-inch plate, fill half of the area with non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower. Next, fill a quarter of the plate with protein and a quarter with healthy carbohydrates such as quinoa, barley, and farro.
As you can see, there are so many great ways for seniors to manage diabetes successfully. It is important to be able to recognize the symptoms of diabetes and get diagnosed. This can make it easier to manage the condition and avoid unwanted health outcomes. Seniors with diabetes can also integrate physical activity, healthy eating habits, and regular visits to their healthcare professionals to further protect their health and well-being for years to come.