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Why Diabetes Is Such a Concern among Seniors

Posted: 11/13/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and with good reason. About 27 million Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, with another 86 million suffering from prediabetes. Among seniors, the CDC reports that 25% over the age of 65 have diabetes, with millions more suffering from prediabetes. 

 

While you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard of diabetes, awareness of the disease encompasses much more. It’s imperative for all of us to have an understanding of this disease. Our health, and the health of our senior loved ones, may depend on it. 

Type 2 diabetes and seniors

Here are some important reasons why diabetes is such a concern among seniors:

It’s extremely common.

As mentioned above, type 2 diabetes is increasingly common among seniors. With 1 in 4 already diagnosed, and according to the ADA, half of seniors age 65 or older are living with prediabetes. That’s about 75% of seniors facing a diagnosis or possible diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, an astonishingly-high number!

It can lead to many other health troubles.

Type 2 diabetes is in and of itself a dangerous health condition, however, the presence of diabetes can also lead to additional health issues, or complications of other present health issues, like:

Heart disease

More than 1 in 3 seniors is living with some form of cardiovascular disease. Suffering from type 2 diabetes increases this risk, and can exacerbate issues in seniors who have already been diagnosed with CVD.

Kidney issues

Our kidneys filter out impurities and provide a critical service to our bodies. Diabetes results in more sugar in our blood, putting a higher workload on our kidneys and oftentimes, leading to chronic impairment and even end-stage renal disease. 

Eye problems

Diabetic retinopathy is a common complication associated with type 2 diabetes, which can ultimately lead to total blindness, particularly among seniors. 

Foot troubles

Diabetes results in nerve damage and poor circulation, which can ultimately result in foot problems, particularly among seniors who may already be suffering from physical issues limiting their mobility. Amputation is an unfortunate, but fairly common, complication of the disease. 

It is preventable.

Time is of the essence for seniors, which means that making the necessary lifestyle changes can prevent prediabetes from progressing into full-blown type 2 diabetes. Or, upon a diagnosis, the right lifestyle and diet changes can help prevent complications like those mentioned above. 

 

These healthy lifestyle changes can help stave off diabetes:

Lose weight

Evidence suggests that losing as little as 5 to 7% of total body weight can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Get active

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise (always talk to your loved one’s doctor before starting an exercise program), five times a week can not only prevent diabetes, but a host of other health issues. Even mobility-impaired seniors can get moving -- talk to a doctor to find out what activities and exercises are right for your loved one. 

Eat the right foods

No surprise here -- diet plays a key role in the prevention and management of diabetes. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and whole grains is a good place to start. Eating the right foods (and avoiding foods that are highly processed, high in unhealthy fats and sugars) can help you lose weight, prevent diabetes, and similar to exercise, can help prevent many significant, chronic ailments. 

Is your loved one suffering from diabetes?

Arming yourself with knowledge is a powerful step in the prevention or treatment of diabetes in your senior loved ones. If you need help keeping Mom or Dad safe and healthy at home, we are here to help. Our specialized diabetes care treats the whole patient, providing support, medical care, and information to help Mom or Dad live a healthy, happy life. Contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location to learn more.