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Type 2 Diabetes is an inability of the human body to process sugar properly. It is preventable and treatable, yet exists in almost epidemic levels in the United States. Though scary at any age, diabetes can be especially problematic for seniors and can result in serious diabetes complications, especially when other health problems may be of concern. At Spring Hills, our assisted living and home care caregivers urge you and your loved one to maintain education on the disease and follow these guidelines on preventing and maintaining diabetes.
What to Know About Diabetes in Seniors
Diabetes is especially dangerous for seniors as it can make them more susceptible to developing conditions that damage organs of the body and can make it more difficult for them to heal from injury. There are often no obvious signs that Type 2 Diabetes is developing but initially, someone might experience more thirst and urinate more frequently. When someone has Type 2 Diabetes, they will often experience:
- Fatigue, lethargy, and chronic weakness – similar to what you’d experience when someone gets the flu.
- A change in weight – weight gain can occur because your body tries to overcompensate for lost fluid and fuel, or weight loss because your muscles aren’t getting enough fuel.
- Numb, tingly, or burning extremities – decreased circulation causes nerve damage, and the extremities are often where you feel the effects first.
- Vision loss or blurring – sugar is being pulled from the lenses of your eyes and blood vessels are deteriorating in your retina.
- Gum disease – your gums are more susceptible to redness and inflammation, putting your teeth at risk.
- More infections and slow healing – urinary tract infections become common in seniors, and their wounds make take a long time to heal.
If uncontrolled, Type 2 Diabetes can result in serious complications for your elderly loved one:
- Cardiovascular disease – the risks of heart attacks or strokes are higher, your level of good cholesterol (HDL) is lowered while your level of bad cholesterol (LDL) is increased
- Serious infections – your immune system is compromised, so your ability to fight off bacteria and viruses is lower and it may take much longer to heal infected tissue
- Nerve damage – it may be difficult to discern problems in the extremities due to lack of feeling, so serious injuries may develop, some even requiring amputation
- Vision loss – without treatment, diabetes can lead to blindness
- Kidney damage – diabetes can affect kidney function and lead to kidney disease so you are unable to naturally excrete waste in your urine
Guidelines for Preventing Diabetes in the Elderly
You or your loved one may be at increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes if any of the following apply:
- Being overweight – excess fat increases the body’s resistance to insulin, which is necessary to metabolize blood sugar
- Stress or depression – stress and mental health issues are known to raise blood sugar levels and blood pressure and have negative effects on insulin production
- History of diabetes in the family – you may have a predisposition to developing diabetes, based on patterns you see in your family’s medical history
If your loved one is at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes or already suffers from Type 2 Diabetes, you should do the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight– your loved one can greatly benefit from a diabetes diet for the elderly and regular physical activity
- Eliminate fat and sugar from the diet– ensure that your loved one is eating more vegetables and whole grains while decreasing the intake of animal fats and processed sugars
- Manage stress– have your loved ones undertake relaxing activities and mindful exercises, doing things they enjoy, and self-care
Managing Diabetes in the Elderly with Spring Hills
Spring Hills caregivers are happy to assist you and your loved one with diabetes prevention and diabetes management, whether your loved one is one of the residents in our assisted living facility or a home care patient. The assisted living diet plans at Spring Hills contain all the necessary nutrition, and we have many opportunities for exercise and physical recreation, whether it’s through chair exercises, Tai Chi classes or taking power walks through our beautiful grounds.
Contact us today and find out how you can help your loved one prevent or maintain diabetes.