Diabetes in the Elderly

Checking blood sugar levels. Injecting insulin. Carefully watching your diet. If this describes an average day in your life, or that of a senior you love, you know firsthand the issues that come with a diagnosis of diabetes in the elderly. As November is Diabetes Awareness Month, the aging care team at Hearts at Home In-Home Care is pleased to share the following information every diabetic – and every family member who cares for one – should know.

What Does It Mean to Have Diabetes?

In a nutshell, our bodies transform some of the foods we eat into glucose, which provides the energy we need – but only if our bodies make enough of the hormone insulin to break down the glucose for our cells to be able to access it. Diabetics’ bodies are either not able to make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), or are unable to use the insulin correctly (type 2 diabetes), bringing about too much glucose in the blood.

Left untreated, diabetes may cause serious health problems, such as nerve, eye, and kidney issues, heart disease and stroke, as well as an elevated risk for Alzheimer’s or cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Many people with type 2 diabetes have such mild symptoms, or symptoms which come and go, that they don’t even recognize there is an issue until the disease progresses and symptoms worsen. Signs to watch for include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Increased hunger and/or thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Slower healing of cuts and bruises
  • Skin infections

It is important to consult with the doctor if any of these symptoms become apparent.

Can Diabetes Be Managed?

The good news is, once identified and effectively treated, and with adherence to lifestyle changes, diabetes can be managed and controlled. For some people, adjustments to exercise and diet are sufficient, while other individuals require medication and/or insulin injections.

A doctor will put together a diabetes management plan to implement, which could include:

  • When and how to track blood sugar levels
  • Which foods to consume and which to avoid
  • Exercises and physical activities
  • A medication regimen

Tips to optimize health while managing diabetes in the elderly include:

  • Manage your blood pressure levels and cholesterol, and have them checked on a regular basis.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Get annual pneumonia and flu vaccines, along with annual kidney and eye exams.
  • Check the feet daily to look for sores, red patches, blisters, calluses, as well as other skin abnormalities, and visit a podiatrist with any concerns.
  • Keep skin protected, clean, and moisturized.
  • Ask the doctor for guidelines on cancer screenings, and for help with any other physical, emotional, or mental health concerns being experienced.

Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of help at home in Kansas City, can help people who have diabetes in a variety of ways, including transportation to medical appointments and procedures, meal planning and preparation in accordance with dietary restrictions, medication reminders, and more. Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 for a no-cost in-home consultation for additional details on our professional help at home in Kansas City and the surrounding areas.