Diabetes in Older Adults

Checking glucose levels. Injecting insulin. Carefully watching your diet. If this describes a typical day in your life, or that of a senior you love, you know firsthand the obstacles that come with a diabetes diagnosis. As November is Diabetes Awareness Month, the aging care team at Anthem Home Care is pleased to share the following important information regarding diabetes in older adults.

What Does It Mean to Have Diabetes?

Simply speaking, our bodies transform some of the foods we eat into glucose, which provides the energy we need – but only if our bodies make enough of the hormone insulin to break down the glucose for our cells to be able to access it. Diabetics’ bodies are either unable to make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), or aren’t able to use the insulin correctly (type 2 diabetes), bringing about too much glucose in the blood.

Left untreated, diabetes can result in serious health issues, such as kidney, eye, and nerve complications, cardiovascular disease and stroke, and even an increased risk for Alzheimer’s or cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Lots of people with type 2 diabetes have such mild symptoms, or symptoms that come and go, that they don’t even recognize there is a problem until the disease advances and symptoms worsen. Signs to watch for include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Increased hunger and/or thirst
  • Weight loss
  • Blurry vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Slower healing of bruises and cuts
  • Skin infections

It is important to talk to the physician if any of these symptoms become apparent.

Can Diabetes Be Managed?

The good news is, once diagnosed and effectively treated, and with adherence to changes in lifestyle, diabetes can be controlled and managed. For some, modifications to exercise and diet are sufficient, while other individuals require insulin injections and/or medication.

A doctor will put together a diabetes management plan to implement, which can include:

  • How and when to track glucose levels
  • Which foods to eat and which to avoid
  • Exercises and physical activities
  • A medication regimen

Strategies to maximize health while managing diabetes include:

  • Manage your blood pressure levels and cholesterol, and have them checked on a frequent basis.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Get annual pneumonia and flu vaccines, along with annual eye and kidney exams.
  • Check your feet each day to look for sores, red patches, blisters, calluses, or other skin irregularities, and see a podiatrist with any concerns.
  • Keep skin clean, protected, and moisturized.
  • Ask your doctor for recommendations on cancer screenings, and for guidance on any other physical, emotional, or mental health concerns being experienced.

As one of the top providers of home care assistance in Portland and the surrounding communities, Anthem Home Care can help provide information about managing diabetes in older adults in many ways. In addition, our compassionate care team can assist with a variety of tasks including transportation to medical appointments and procedures, meal planning and preparation in accordance with nutritional restrictions, medication reminders, and more. Reach out to us at 361-643-2323 for a free in-home consultation or for more information on our professional in-home care for diabetes management. For a list of all of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.