Talk Directly to a Care Advisor

1-800-955-8510

Is Diabetes Common Among Seniors?

Diabetes EquipmentIf you’re over the age of 65, the chances you have or know someone who has diabetes are quite high according to the American Diabetes Association. Roughly 25% of seniors over 65 (12 million) have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and conservative estimates place diabetes as the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.

What Is Diabetes?

When it comes to unpacking the causes and symptoms of diabetes, it’s important to understand the key players like the pancreas, a large gland that sits just behind the stomach and aids the body in converting glucose into useable energy for cells.

When you eat and drink, the carbohydrates you ingest are broken down in your stomach and their glucose is released into the bloodstream. The rise in blood sugar stimulates beta cells in your pancreas to secrete insulin - it’s insulin’s job to attach to cells in your bloodstream and get them to absorb the glucose for energy.

The more your blood sugar rises, the more insulin your body produces. If there is simply too much glucose in the blood, insulin also helps store it in the liver for later energy needs (i.e. when you exercise).

Seniors with Type I Diabetes are born with this autoimmune condition where their pancreas simply doesn’t produce any (or enough) insulin (due to genetics, viral causes, etc). Type I Diabetes requires regular injections of insulin and constant monitoring to manage balancing blood sugar levels.

Type II Diabetes on the other hand develops overtime when the body is inundated with a diet high in carbs and glucose, and the pancreas slowly loses the ability to produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels (or the cells in the body become insulin-resistant).

Side Effects of Diabetes

The danger of diabetes (hyperglycemia) is that when insulin is unable to help your cells absorb glucose, the cells themselves become starved for energy. The glucose buildup in the bloodstream can also negatively impact the heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Type 2 Diabetes typically worsens over time and can lead to:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Hypertension
  • Vision loss
  • Amputation
  • Dental disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Depression
  • Skin infections
  • Foot circulation problems
  • Nervous system damage

Symptoms of Diabetes

As more and more glucose builds up in your bloodstream, a myriad of symptoms can present themselves, including:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Slow healing sores
  • Dark patches of skin (armpits, neck area)
  • Blurred Vision

As your body becomes unable to metabolize glucose, some of it will be excreted in urine (sugar in urine is another indicator of diabetes). For older adults with incontinence, diabetes may exacerbate the problem. For a list of the best incontinence supplies, click here.

The body will also look to other sources to fuel cell energy, like your muscles and fat (hence weight loss). Sugar buildup in the blood stream also causes your body to pull fluids from inopportune sources like the eyes, leaving you with vision trouble and feeling very thirsty.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

So what exactly puts you at risk for developing Type II Diabetes? Largely lifestyle decisions play the most important role in preventing and managing Type II Diabetes. These include:

  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Excess weight (especially at the waist area)

Additional risk factors include older age, family history, and certain ethnicities. For example, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Native Americans all have higher rates of diabetes than non-Hispanic Whites and Asian Americans. Men are also slightly more likely to have diabetes than women.

Diabetes Treatment

For seniors with Type II Diabetes, lifestyle transformations to aid disease treatment are a must. This may include modifying one’s diet to eliminate unhealthy foods like those high in cholesterol, sodium, unhealthy fats, carbs, and sugar and instead incorporating more vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean meats, and whole grains. Foods high in fiber are also beneficial to diabetics as they help stabilize blood sugars.

Increased physical activity can also help someone who is prediabetic prevent themselves from developing Type II Diabetes. Not only does regular exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but the physical exertion actually stimulates muscles to metabolize glucose helping get it out of your blood stream. Aiming for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day also lowers your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and cognitive decline.

Additional treatments for Type II Diabetes symptoms include regular monitoring of blood sugar with a digital monitoring device, routine visits with your doctor, as well as potential pharmaceutical interventions (prescription drugs).

Final Considerations About Diabetes

Type II Diabetes’ prevalence among seniors is a true public health issue, especially since much of its onset can be avoided with diet, exercise, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excess drinking. If you are concerned about your own risk factors or lifestyle habits that may lead to diabetes, start a dialogue with your doctor right way - early and proactive actions can make a huge difference!

Comments

Related Articles

Consent or Rape? The Dementia Dilemma…

What happens when somebody has dementia and it is not certain whether they have the capacity...

Read Full Article

Demystifying Incontinence Supplies

The internet has become a transformational tool for buying incontinence products. There is a...

Read Full Article

How to Avoid These Big Medicare Mistakes

If you’re nearing retirement and Medicare age, here are some of the most important...

Read Full Article

Natural Ways to Improve Joint Health

Joint health deteriorates as we age, often impairing our ability to make the most of our...

Read Full Article

Maintaining Optimal Dental Health for Senior Citizens

Below are some of the best tips we have gathered to help you understand the different ways...

Read Full Article

5 Ways For Seniors To Keep Their Brains Active

Dementia and senility are real fear for senior citizens.  There are, however, several...

Read Full Article

Learning How to Live with Mesothelioma in the Long Term

If you're struggling with mesothelioma or you know someone who's been afflicted with...

Read Full Article

Why Opioid Addiction is a Growing Concern for Seniors

Prescription-drug addiction is becoming more prevalent among seniors, a sign that more...

Read Full Article

Avoiding Arthritis Pain During Cold Weather

If you find yourself struggling with arthritis flare-ups during cold weather, don’t...

Read Full Article

Understanding Fatigue in COPD Patients

Fatigue, along with other COPD symptoms, often exhaust a person’s strength and energy,...

Read Full Article

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

Sign up for our FREE monthly newsletter to receive the most up-to-date information on caring for your elderly parent or loved one

Order your printed copy of Senior Directory today!

Still enjoy flipping through the pages of a printed copy? So do we! Click on the button below to start receiving Senior Directory right at your doorstep!

Order Your Copy

I prefer the digital copy, please.

Speak to one of our advisors 1-800-955-8510