Both average life expectancy and the prevalence of diabetes are continuing to rise.
For seniors, type 2 diabetes is a growing problem, and a larger proportion of newly diagnosed diabetics are older in age. Treating and diagnosing diabetes amongst the elderly can be a challenge. Since April is National Defeat Diabetes Month, let’s look at how this impacts seniors specifically.
So, what are some differences in diagnosing diabetes among the elderly when compared to diabetes in the young?
1. Elderly people who are at risk of developing diabetes, or who have already developed the disease, may not exhibit the classic symptoms expected.
2. Age-related changes can mean that some symptoms will be masked, or harder to spot.
All diabetes complications can occur amongst older patients. Cognitive complications are more common amongst the elderly. Further problems may include pre-existing or co-existing health problems. Many elderly diabetic patients are pre-disposed to hypoglycemia. Understanding diabetes is an important step. Education, of both the patient and caregiver, can be important in recognizing warning signs before a crisis occurs.
According to the American Diabetes Association, “Diabetes is a common disease, yet every individual needs unique care. We encourage people with diabetes and their families to learn as much as possible about the latest medical therapies and approaches, as well as healthy lifestyle choices. Good communication with a team of experts can help you feel in control and respond to changing needs.” It is important to have regular checkups with your primary care physician and communicate any concerns. Dealing with diabetes will be so much easier when you have a team approach.
My mother always said that before you can love anyone else, you must love yourself and take care of yourself. One of the best ways to love yourself…is to take care of yourself. That can be hard to do if you are always trying to take care of everyone else. February is American Heart Health Month, which makes it a perfect time for us to hard look at our heart health. Seniors are at a particular risk when it comes to heart issues. A staggering 84 percent of seniors over the age of 65 die from heart disease. Here are the warning signs and steps to take towards better heart health according to everdayhealth.com.
The warning signs of heart disease often don’t appear until you’re having a heart attack. Symptoms of an emergency or impending heart attack may include:
Weakness or a sensation of light-headedness
Having a hard time catching your breath
Feeling nauseous or vomiting
Feeling very full or having indigestion
Pain in the chest or an uncomfortable pressure in the chest
Unusual pains in the back, shoulders, or neck
An irregular heartbeat
Steps to Take
You can keep your heart healthy no matter how old you are, but it does take effort — possibly even changes in your everyday habits, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and increasing your activity level. Here’s how to get started:
Get enough exercise This means at least 30 minutes of exercise almost every day of the week.
Quit smoking If you do smoke, it’s not worth the risk.
Eat a heart-healthy diet Load up on fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting saturated fats, salt, and foods containing cholesterol, like fatty meats.
Watch your numbers Get regular check-ups to monitor health conditions that affect the heart, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, and make sure they’re under control with medication.
Reduce your alcohol intake Excess alcohol consumption can worsen health conditions that contribute to heart disease, like blood pressure, arrhythmias, and high cholesterol levels.
Minimize stress in your life Stress can compound many heart disease risks that seniors already face, steering you toward an unhealthy lifestyle. Find healthy outlets to relieve stress and lower your heart disease risk.
Watch your weight Too many pounds can add up to increased heart disease risk. To help prevent heart disease, maintain a healthy body weight for your size.
You can also find more heart health information on the website millionhearts.hhs.gov. They even have a heart age calculator that can be a real eye opener. There is no better time than right now to focus on your heart health. If you have concerns talk to your doctor. Take time to take care of you.
Ah yes, we are now possibly tearing open the wrappers of many a piece of candy and finishing off those sugary treats as we enter November and the month of the Thanksgiving Feast! Perhaps that is why November is considered National Diabetes Month. This observance was created so individuals, health care professionals, organizations, and communities across the country can bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. The American Diabetes Association reports that “half of all Americans age 65 or older have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. An estimated 11.2 million (nearly 26 percent) Americans over age 65 have already been diagnosed with diabetes, a figure that will continue to increase if we do not act to prevent diabetes in this population.”
There are many things the “experts” tell us to do to get to and stay at a healthy weight and prevent type 2 diabetes: Choose healthy foods, make healthy meals, be active 30 minutes a day. But where should you start? It’s can be overwhelming. And it can be even harder if you have a lot of changes you want to make.
It’s easier to make lifestyle changes one step at a time. Think of each small step as one piece of your effort to change your habits. Making changes one step at a time gives you the best chance to reach and stay at a healthy weight and prevent type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that making just a few small changes can make a big impact on your weight and health. Learn how to make these changes step-by-step.
Things that you want to consider are:
Weight: Staying at a healthy weight can help you prevent and manage problems like prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease, high blood pressure, and unhealthy cholesterol.
Diet:Always ask your healthcare provider about healthy eating plans and what you can and can’t have in your diet. Each person is different and industry standards have changed.
You may want to check with your health care provider or dentist if you find chewing difficult, don’t want to eat, or have trouble with your dentures.
You feel that life events such as the death of a loved one or moving from your home are keeping you from eating well.
You think your medicines may be making your food taste bad or affecting your appetite.
You think you should take a daily vitamin like iron or vitamin C.
Exercise: Physical activity can do a lot for your health, even if you haven’t been very active lately. Take a walk, do chair aerobics, just get up and move if you can! As with all health changes, discuss your exercise plan with your primary care physician.