Diabetes is a disease that affects the way the body processes food, especially sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 25% of Americans age 65 and older have some form of diabetes.
With the disease being so prevalent, it’s important to understand the different types of diabetes, symptoms, and how to prevent or manage the disease.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. While type 2 is much more common — especially in aging adults — type 1 can also still affect seniors.
The main differences between type 1 and type 2 are in prevention and management. Type 1 is unpreventable while type 2 can potentially be prevented if certain actions are taken.
For managing the two, type 1 may require regular insulin injections or a pump while type 2 is often manageable by lifestyle and diet changes along with medication, potentially.
Both types are chronic, diagnosed with a blood test, and monitored through regular blood sugar tests.
While the symptoms of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are fairly similar, the cause and treatment are typically very different. According to the American Diabetes Association, these are the common signs of diabetes:
– Urinating often
– Feeling very thirsty
– Feeling very hungry even though you are eating
– Extreme fatigue
– Blurry vision
– Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
– Weight loss even though you are eating more (type 1)
– Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Prevention and Management
As mentioned above, type 1 diabetes is not preventable, but type 2 is. There are several risk factors that increase a seniors’ chances of developing the disease which includes, but are not limited, to:
– Over the age of 65
– Family history of diabetes
– Sedentary lifestyle
In order to combat these risk factors, living a healthier lifestyle is very important. Getting regular exercise, losing weight, and following a healthier diet all lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Taking prescriptions that are recommended by a doctor can also lower the risk.
If you do develop diabetes, both types are still manageable. Care should continue as normal for seniors with type 1 diabetes, with caregivers paying special attention for hypoglycemia symptoms and helping seniors manage the disease.
For type 2 diabetes, management of the disease is very similar to the actions you would take to prevent it. Following a healthier lifestyle plays a big role in effectively managing it, so consulting a dietician to help with meal planning for a healthier diet is great.
It’s also important to track glucose levels with blood tests as directed by your doctor. Sometimes, medication can be part of type 2 diabetes management to prevent it from worsening, so consult your doctor to see if this is an option for you.
Being diagnosed with diabetes can be discouraging for seniors, but taking effective actions to prevent and/or manage the disease can help minimize the impact dramatically.
If you or a loved one need help managing diabetes, Bluebird Homecare’s caregivers are some of the most educated in the industry when it comes to being highly familiar with the specifics of diabetes. Contact us today to see how we can help you!