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How Diabetes Changes with Age

While many type 2 diabetics are aware their condition requires ongoing maintenance, it’s also important to be aware that even well-controlled diabetes will eventually progress as they age. That means elderly diabetics likely will have to adjust their treatment plan more than once over the years. Chronic high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, is a huge risk for people with diabetes, as it can lead to whole host of complications, from heart disease, blindness, lower limb amputation, peripheral neuropathy, and kidney disease.

The good news is that proper diabetes management can prevent or delay these complications. That’s why it’s important for older adults with diabetes to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and take medication as prescribed to keep their blood sugar in check. As type 2 diabetes progresses, that means prescription medicines, diet, and exercise recommendations will likely need to be adjusted over time. Many people with type 2 diabetes eventually need insulin therapy, and having to start does not mean they’ve failed at managing their diabetes.

Your Body Will Change As You Age While Your Diabetes Progresses

Not only does diabetes progress, but an elderly person’s body also breaks down with age. They may start to experience diabetes complications that necessitate an adjustment in their diabetes management plan. For instance, as diabetes progresses, an older adult might have nerve pain, or develop an unrelated condition such as osteoarthritis, which creates the perfect storm for decreased mobility and higher likelihood of the need for medical intervention to get your diabetes management plan back on track.

There are diabetes healthcare professionals who may be able to help older adults manage their age-related issues: a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES). These healthcare experts can adjust the elderly adult’s diet, exercise, and medication management plan so they can continue to have a high quality of life.

The best ways diabetics of any age can manage their condition is by:

  • Eating healthfully: There’s no specific diet that works for all diabetics, but it’s important to understand that food choices can impact blood sugar. People with diabetes can benefit from focusing on filling your plate halfway with vegetables at every meal and getting into a habit of reading nutritional labels and learning more about proper portion sizes.
  • Stay active: By incorporating a combination of aerobic, resistance training, and flexibility-building activities, diabetics can improve their insulin sensitivity.
  • Aim for a healthy weight: Obesity increases a diabetic’s risk of health complications. Even losing 10 to 15 pounds can improve diabetes management.
  • Check your blood sugar: Target blood sugar ranges may change with age. Older diabetics should increase the frequency they check their blood sugar levels, especially if they take insulin.

While it’s challenging to live with a progressive, chronic disease like diabetes, you can delay the progression of your elderly loved one’s diabetes by making sure they take care of themselves each and every day to the best of their ability. Make sure to keep in touch regularly with their physician and CDCES to stay on top of diabetes management and have strategies to prevent other health complications.

To learn more about At Home Healthcare or request in-home care services, please call (877) 959-9093.

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