Tips For Management Of Diabetes In The Elderly

Diabetes is a common chronic disease among the American population, and living with this condition
requires regular treatment, monitoring and lifestyle modification. The Center for Disease Control
and Prevention reported the number of cases of diabetes among Americans to be approximately 34
million. 14.3 million of these people belong to the elderly age group, most of whom have the type 2
variant of the disease. The physiologic changes that come with the aging process can make the
effects of diabetes difficult for seniors to deal with, but that doesn’t always have to be the case.
Keep reading to find out more about diabetes in the elderly and effective ways to control the disease
progression.

DIABETES IN THE ELDERLY

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition characterized by excessive levels of sugar in the blood.
This raised blood sugar, medically referred to as hyperglycemia, results from a failure in the normal
regulation by the hormone insulin. The exact cause of diabetes remains unknown, but factors such
as age, genetics, overweight and obesity, and lifestyle choices increase the risk of developing the
condition.

There are different types of diabetes, but the type seen in the elderly is predominantly type 2 diabetes. In this type, the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin are significantly reduced, or the body fails to respond to the produced insulin. This leads to low insulin and, consequently, the hyperglycemia that typifies this disease condition. Because type 2 diabetes is a common occurrence in those 65 years and older, regular medical checkups to diagnose and monitor the course of the disease are very important. The complications of diabetes tend to be more common and severe in the elderly, so staying on top of the management will help to prevent the following:
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Vision loss
  • Kidney disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy

MANAGEMENT OF DIABETES IN THE ELDERLY

Managing diabetes in seniors can be as simple and effective as it is in younger individuals with the
right information and approach. Here are five powerful tips that can improve the outcome of
diabetes in the elderly:

  1. ASK THE DOCTOR FOR A PERSONALIZED PLAN: No two seniors are the same, and as such, the
    management of diabetes in older adults has to be individualized. Some seniors are more
    high functioning than others and can take better charge of their self-care. Many older adults
    with diabetes have other health concerns that can impact each other, drug interaction, for
    example, and this has to be considered for each person. Therefore, a personalized health
    plan for the management of diabetes is non-negotiable.
  2. SOCIAL SUPPORT IS VITAL: Regardless of the level of functioning, every older adult will
    greatly benefit from strong social support as they navigate this phase of life. The presence of
    family and friends at home or in nursing homes can improve the mood of seniors and
    improve diet and drug compliance. It is important to make sure they feel love and support
    during the management process to reduce the chances of complications occurring. The great
    home health aides at Countryside Home Health Care can also prove to be very helpful in
    assisting with household tasks and activities of daily living.
  3. NEVER MISS A MEDICAL CHECKUP: The importance of keeping up with medical
    appointments cannot possibly be overemphasized. Regular blood sugar and A1C monitoring
    are essential in ascertaining that blood sugar levels are within desirable limits. Tests to
    measure blood pressure and cholesterol levels are also important in identifying
    complications before they become too serious.
  4. VACCINES ARE IMPORTANT: Pneumonia and the flu are two diseases that can come with
    severe complications in people 65 years and older, particularly in those being managed for
    diabetes. Vaccines are great ways to stay protected and maintain health, so talk to a doctor
    to schedule shots of pneumonia and flu vaccines as soon as you can.
  5. STICK TO YOUR LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS: Better diet, more exercise, quitting smoking and
    drinking; these are lifestyle changes that have to be instituted when managing diabetes.
    Making and adhering to these changes can be difficult, but doing so is important if life is to
    be prolonged. Ask for the support of family and friends to keep you honest if need be, but be
    sure to stay active, eat healthily and dump unhealthy habits.

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