boy holding woman's glucose meterOver 34 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes. This condition occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps carry sugar from the bloodstream to the cells, where it’s converted to energy.

Typically, our bodies turn food into glucose to fuel our bodies throughout the day. Insulin helps store glucose for this purpose. There are two forms of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to make insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body does not respond well to insulin and over time, might not be able to produce enough. Type 2 diabetes is more common, affecting about 1 in every 10 people. An additional 88 million adults have prediabetes.

Looking at the senior population, diabetes affects 1 in 4 people over age 65. Older people are more at risk for this condition, simply because they have been exposed to sugar longer, which increase the chance of having higher blood glucose levels.

Signs & Symptoms of Diabetes

Unfortunately, diabetes can go undiagnosed for a while if you don’t know the signs. It’s important to see your doctor if you exhibit symptoms related to diabetes. A few warning signs to be aware of include:

  • Extreme hunger
  • Extreme thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Vision problems
  • Slow wound healing

How to Manage Diabetes

As it becomes harder to control diabetes with age, it’s even more important to know the best ways to maintain blood sugar levels. Exercise is one of the most important steps for seniors living with diabetes. At least 30 minutes of activity a day can make a positive impact on blood glucose levels. This can be as simple as taking a walk or swimming laps!

Paying close attention to your diet is also crucial to help regulate your blood sugar. Limiting your intake of carbohydrates can prevent blood glucose levels from rising. On the other hand, increasing your fiber intake can help improve blood sugar levels. Some examples of fibrous foods include leafy greens, berries and whole grains.

It’s also important to stay hydrated! Drinking water can help dilute the amount of sugar in your bloodstream, which ultimately can reduce blood glucose levels.

How to Prevent Diabetes

While diabetes can be hereditary, not everyone with the genes will develop the condition. You also can be diagnosed with diabetes without a family history, which makes knowing how to prevent the disease even more vital. As your body ages, you become even more at risk for developing diabetes.

Make sure to maintain a diet high in protein and healthy fats, like fish, vegetables, fruits, chicken and nuts. These foods can be critical for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

In your golden years, stress and anxiety may become harder to manage. Unfortunately, stress is proven to increase blood sugar levels. Try starting a new hobby or joining a support group to limit your stress.
For more information on the prevention or management of diabetes in seniors, contact Avon Health Center.