According to the American Diabetes Association, “In the U.S., there are nearly 26 million people living with diabetes, and more seniors have diabetes than any other age group. Currently, one in four Americans (10.9 million, or 26.9 percent) over the age of 60 is living with diabetes.”
As you get older, your risks for health complications increase, so it’s important to be conscientious of your health. There are 3 forms of diabetes: prediabetes, type 1, and type 2. The majority of seniors with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It occurs because the body is not making enough insulin or is not able to properly use the insulin it does make. Insulin helps our bodies use glucose for energy (ADA).
If diagnosed, it’s most likely because of high blood glucose levels. This can lead to complications such as blindness, kidney disease and heart disease, plus nerve damage that can lead to amputations (ADA).
Don’t be too discouraged. There are things you can do to prevent diabetes-related problems, no matter how old you are. Taking action now is most important. You want to watch your family grow, and the only way you can do that is by living a healthy life.
Here are some ways to keep your health in check:
Keep your blood glucose level under control. Talk to your doctor about the target range for your blood glucose. Then check your levels daily (or as often as recommended by your doctor) to know if your treatment plan (nutrition plan, exercise and/or medication(s)) is working (Diabetes.org).
Make changes in your diet to lower your blood glucose and lower your risk for heart disease.
- Learn to eat well-balanced meals that include healthful food choices (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.) and watch your portion sizes. Even foods that are good for you can add pounds to your waistline, if you consume too much of them. Losing those extra pounds will help you manage not only your diabetes, but also other health problems you may have (Diabetes.org).
- Keep your blood pressure under control. The same lifestyle changes that control blood glucose levels (dietary modifications and exercise) may also help you keep your blood pressure at safe levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes keep their blood pressure below 140/80, but check with your health care professional about what target is best for you (Diabetes.org).
- Keep your cholesterol levels in normal range. The liver makes cholesterol and it is also found in the foods we eat such as eggs, meats and dairy products. High cholesterol levels can clog your arteries and put you at risk of developing heart disease and stroke. If you have high cholesterol, you can help lower it by losing weight, exercising and eating a healthful diet.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is bad for everyone. It increases your risk for heart disease and is even worse for people with diabetes because of the blood vessel damage it causes (Diabetes.org, WebMD).
Increase your physical activity. Exercise is a very important tool to help lower your blood glucose. Prior to starting any exercise program, you will need to consult with your doctor. Make exercise routine with activities you enjoy. In addition to helping manage your blood glucose, exercise helps lower blood pressure and improves balance, flexibility and muscle strength. Exercise may even help to reduce anxiety and depression (Diabetes.org).
Sources: American Diabetes Association, Diabetes.org, WebMD