One in every 4 elders suffers from diabetes. Diabetes has become a chronic disease that affects the lifestyle and daily routine of elders. Elders are at a major risk of acquiring this lifestyle disease due to ageing, slowed metabolism, reduced activity, weight gain etc. This is why diabetes care for seniors has become the priority in keeping elders healthy and happy in their ageing years.
Diabetes in seniors
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high blood sugar levels. This is caused by the body’s inability to produce insulin as in the case of Type 1 diabetes or the body’s resistance to insulin as in Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes in seniors is mostly of Type 2. All adults above 45 are at risk from type 2 disease and this is because of their age, reduced activity, poor metabolism, obesity or other associated ailments.
Diabetes is most likely to occur if seniors
- Are above 45 years of age and
- are overweight
- Have hypertension
- Have diabetes in the family
- Have heart disease
- Have had a heart attack
- Have borderline sugar showing in blood tests
- Have has gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Have had PCOS and are obese
- Are above 55 years of age.
With age, seniors must learn to exercise caution in their diet and lifestyle and take steps to manage diabetes .
Steps to manage diabetes in seniors
Elders must adopt the following steps to manage diabetes in order to maintain a healthy and active life even in their senior years.
- Healthy diet
Seniors must strictly adhere to a diet that is low in sugar and saturated fats. This is possible by
- Consuming a diet rich in fibre and protein
- More intake of whole grains, vegetables, beans and lentils
- Avoiding intake of sugar even as fruit juices and consuming fruits wholly.
- Avoiding dairy, fatty foods and carbonated drinks.
Adopting such conscious changes in diet will only reduce the blood sugar levels for elders to keep diabetes at bay.
- Regular blood sugar monitoring
Monitoring the blood sugar levels of the elderly is a must and must be done at least once a month. Elders can learn to check their blood glucose levels and administer their insulin injections by themselves. For the very old and infirm seniors, home care services for diabetic people can be availed.
Elderly people are at higher risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia due to the intake of diabetic medication. This may cause sudden dizziness, hunger and sweating. This is why monitoring the blood sugar levels of the elders is a must on a periodic basis.
- Activity and exercise
Regular exercise and activity is a must for elders to control diabetes. Exercising 5 days a week for 30 minutes daily is strictly recommended for elders to manage diabetes. Walking, Cycling, Swimming and other Aerobic exercises are best for elders. Seniors can also practise Yoga or do strength training with free weights and resistance bands for at least 2 times a week.
- Timely medication
Seniors must never miss their medication for diabetes or other ailments as missing medications can upset the blood sugar levels of elders. Family members and caregivers must help elders in taking timely medication or seek the help of home care services for diabetic people . in this task.
- Regular vaccinations
Due to diminishing immunity, elders are more susceptible to infections like pneumonia, influenza or herpes. Elders with diabetes are easily affected by such infections and take a longer time to heal. Taking vaccinations regularly helps elders stay healthy and manage diabetes.
- Watch out for eyesight, hearing, feet and teeth problems
Diabetic elders must examine their feet daily and watch out for eye, ear and teeth problems as these tend to worsen with age and diabetes.
- Avoid smoking and drinking
Elders who smoke and drink are at higher risk from diabetes and hence must avoid these unhealthy practices.
Staying healthy is easy for elders if they adhere to a healthy lifestyle and take preventive steps to manage diabetes.