High blood sugar levels (aka high blood glucose) lead to irreversible conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes. Seniors are especially at risk for developing this disease, due primarily to weight gain, an inactive lifestyle and having a family history of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most widespread type of diabetes. It is characterized by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin efficiently. The disease affects many parts of the aging body, and several serious health problems stem from diabetes complications.
Over time, Type 2 diabetes can be responsible for conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, vision problems and kidney disease. If the disease results in nerve damage, amputation may be medically necessary. Elderly Type 2 diabetes patients have a higher risk of developing cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
In those seniors who suffer from Type 2 diabetes, it is critical to properly manage the disease. Oftentimes, simply exercising and consuming a healthy diet are enough to sustain healthy blood glucose levels. A diabetes management plan created by a healthcare provider, however, is an ideal first step.
The senior’s healthcare team will suggest a combination of lifestyle changes and/or medications based on the individual’s habits, preferences and goals for health. Medical specialists also take into account the senior’s other health conditions. If necessary, one or more medications will be prescribed.
A team of healthcare professionals may include a dietitian to assist with meal planning, a diabetes educator to help the senior understand the disease, an exercise coach, the senior’s physician, who may prescribe medications to counter symptoms of the disease, and an in-home care provider to ensure that they follow the plan to manage the disease.
Staying healthy while suffering from Type 2 diabetes requires daily management techniques. Elderly patients should visit their doctors annually for a medical evaluation of how well they are controlling the disease. In between physician visits, follow these tips to effectively manage Type 2 diabetes:
1. Schedule annual vision exams
When blood glucose is excessively high for prolonged periods, the blood vessels in the retina are susceptible to damage. Diabetic retinopathy, which manifests as bleeding in the eye, can lead to blindness. Retinopathy is likely to reoccur, making regular eye exams critical to good eye health.
2. Check A1C glucose levels
In addition to having yearly eye exams, check glucose levels (especially the average level over two to three months) regularly. Diabetic retinopathy takes years to manifest. Having glucose levels checked twice a year helps to prevent blood vessel conditions that can lead to blindness.
3. Check feet every day
Nerve damage (aka neuropathy) to the feet is a common consequence of Type 2 diabetes. Seniors who develop neuropathy experience numbness, tingling and sometimes burning sensations in their feet. When seniors are unable to feel pain in their feet, they are less likely to notice puncture wounds.
Stepping on sharp objects will result in no pain, but an infection may develop. Even worse, untreated wounds can result in gangrene, tissue death or may require amputation. Prevent complications by checking the feet daily for sores, blisters or ulcers. Seek prompt treatment for foot injuries.
4. Exercise daily
Remaining physically fit and active helps to lower blood sugar levels. Exercise is instrumental for weight loss and maintenance. Among a host of additional physical health benefits, regular exercise in patients with Type 2 diabetes helps to reduce A1C, blood pressure and insulin resistance.
Seniors with Type 2 diabetes are advised to decrease their sedentary activities and replace them with physical movement. Interrupt frequent sitting with bouts of 30 minutes of light activity, such as standing or walking, to experience benefits to blood glucose levels.
5. Get tested annually
Older Type 2 diabetes sufferers should undergo regular checkups to manage their condition. An annual blood test will help pinpoint any issues with cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as kidney problems that result from diabetes. Check blood pressure often as well.
6. Eat nutritiously
Consuming regular, balanced meals that help maintain one’s weight is recommended for patients with Type 2 diabetes. Try to eliminate fast foods as well as those that are processed, refined and prepared. When choosing carbohydrates, pick ones that promote steady blood sugar levels.
Starchy and non-starchy vegetables have lower glycemic effects on blood glucose. Yogurt, milk and cheese contain protein and are acceptable inclusions in the senior’s diet. Whole grain breads, dried beans and lentils as well as fresh or frozen fruit are healthy food choices for those living with Type 2 diabetes.
7. Take medicines as prescribed
A physician may prescribe medications to help regulate blood glucose. Metformin is the primary drug used to help adjust blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes patients. Weight loss is a common side effect of taking this drug, so pair the medication with an exercise plan and a healthy diet.
Insulin therapy is sometimes needed to sustain good insulin levels. Injections or pumps are often the methods used to deliver insulin therapy. The senior’s physician will determine the type of insulin needed and for how long it should be used.
Managing Type 2 diabetes on a daily basis may require in-home support. Professional caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care are prepared to provide the non-medical assistance needed to keep our care recipients with diabetes on track with their healthcare regimen.
We offer meal preparation services that meet your elderly loved one’s dietary restrictions. Our caregivers remind seniors to take medications prescribed to control Type 2 diabetes. When seniors are scheduled for medical checkups, we’ll transport them to doctor’s offices. We’ll also ensure they get exercise, accompanying them to promote balance and safety.
Professional non-medical senior home care provided by compassionate caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care offers seniors with Type 2 diabetes the assistance they need. Our comprehensive elder care services also include assistance with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming and dressing.
Consult an Assisting Hands Home Care representative for dedicated elder care services. We’ll start the elder care process with a free in-home assessment. Families trust the reliable in-home support our dedicated caregivers provide to the elderly living in Plainfield, Illinois.