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How Should Elderly People Manage Diabetes?

As a person ages, their body’s physiology changes and they become more susceptible to health problems and diseases, especially chronic ones. These issues could also get more complicated if the person has a genetic predisposition to certain medical conditions and if they don’t take good care of their health and well-being throughout their life.

· Diabetes,Type 2 Diabetes

According to statistics, most cases diagnosed with diabetes mellitus fall in the old-age group (65 years and above) and it’s usually type 2 diabetes that affects them the most. And if diabetes was not well-managed, it could affect many organs in the body due to abnormal blood flow and circulation. The following are the major complications caused by uncontrolled diabetes:     

  • Heart attacks and cerebral strokes

  • Renal failure

  • Damage of the small veins of the eyes

  • Amputations due to ulcers and infections mainly in the feet, and loss of sensation

  • Alzheimer’s disease (which is now called Type 3 diabetes)

Luckily, many people get to live normally with diabetes even as they get older, given that they always keep an eye on their health and blood glucose levels. To make it easier for you, here are some tips for managing diabetes as a diabetic senior, or a healthcare provider for an elderly with diabetes:

At Home

  • The patient should be able to read and have a knowledge about normal ranges of BG levels (below 100 mg/dL if fasting and below 140 mg/dL 2 hours after a meal)
  • The patient should be assisted by a family member or a nurse if they’re unable to manage their diabetes on their own

  • Make sure the blood glucose testing kit is always ready and near

  • Store the insulin and medications in appropriate temperatures and places

  • Print out a clear list of most eaten foods and their carbohydrate content for easier carbohydrate exchanges counting and post it in the kitchen

At the Clinic/Medical Center​

  • The healthcare provider or patient should be clear and honest about their condition when talking to the endocrinologist
  • Any symptoms or issues should be directly addressed to the physician or nurse

  • Make sure to always bring the blood glucose testing machine with you so that the physician can check the daily BG level readings

  • Make sure that the routine blood tests are done in the right time (HbA1C every 3 months and other tests specified by the physician)

Eating Out

  • Check the BG level before eating

  • Choose diabetic-friendly meals that are low in carbs and fat

  • Avoid choosing sugary drinks (even fresh juices). Try plain water or sparkling water with lemon instead

  • If dessert is ordered, try to share it

  • Don’t forget to take your medication and/or insulin

Physical Activity & Lifestyle

As we all know, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle are very important for everybody, and they’re also crucial in the management of diabetes.

  • Make sure to perform at least 30 minutes of low to moderate physical activity most days of the week, that could be as simple as walking

  • If you’re unable to do so, try some physical therapy sessions to improve blood circulation

  • Try to lose weight in a slow and progressive way with the assistance of a dietitian

  • Quit smoking!! Smoking is the number 1 enemy for diabetes

It’s never too late to take control of one’s health and lower the risk of complications that come with diabetes. And always remember that small changes can make huge differences. :-)

-- Hiba Ayoubi

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