Diabetes in the elderly
Diabetes is a prevalent disease in the elderly and can have serious complications in older people. It is a disease that seriously affects the well-being of our elderly, accelerating aging and reducing their quality of life.
The main risk factors for diabetes include age, being overweight, genetic predisposition to diabetes, and reduced activity levels. Type 2 diabetes rates steadily increase with age.
What Causes Diabetes in Older People
It is common for diabetes to appear in the elderly among people who have maintained inappropriate lifestyle habits for many years, and there comes a time when the pancreas is not able to secrete enough insulin to regulate glucose levels.
Performing regular medical check-ups is a very important measure to prevent and detect diabetes from the early stages, providing the appropriate tools to treat the disease.
The Effects of Diabetes in Older People
A major problem for older people with diabetes is that sometimes the symptoms may not be very obvious. And as a result, older people with diabetes can be relatively symptom-free and remain undiagnosed until damage has occurred. The sooner we have a diagnosis, the sooner we will improve the health of the person.
Symptoms in the elderly such as excessive urination and feeling thirsty all the time are not as evident as they may be in the young. Another sign we can detect is that they may feel tired and lethargic, although this can often be misinterpreted as part of the normal aging process. For this reason, we must be more aware of the symptoms of diabetes in the elderly.
Left unchecked, the build-up of glucose in the blood can cause enormous damage to almost every major organ in the body. Examples are varied: kidney damage, artery damage, heart attack, eye damage, etc.
Difficulties in managing diabetes
Eating habits have to adapt to this new condition. The doctor should guide the appropriate treatment for diabetes taking into account the health, physical and family status of the elderly person with diabetes.
The endocrinologist will assess the best option, taking into account that the administration of insulin or drugs can be difficult to follow at these ages, especially if the older person lives alone.
Lifestyle, diet and sport
At certain ages, there are circumstances that can affect eating habits. Loss of taste, vision or mobility problems or difficulty chewing can make our elders not comply correctly with the diet necessary for the control of diabetes. It is for this reason that it is advisable to carry out a follow-up by family members and the general practitioner.
Regular physical exercise is recommended, but it will depend on the person’s conditions. Walking, swimming, or dancing will help keep diabetes and glycemic indexes under control.
Tips for treating diabetes in older people
When older adults lose their cognitive functions, it makes the disease more difficult to control. For this reason, we must follow a series of recommendations. They would be these:
- Older people with diabetes need special monitoring and care to reduce the effects of this disease on their health.
- Learn everything about diabetes and its treatment. In this case, not only the person with diabetes, but also their closest family and friends.
- Prepare a kind of manual or tools so that they easily understand what to do with diabetes.
- Following the instructions of the health personnel will allow better control of the development of the disease.
- It is appropriate to work with your doctor and other health professionals, such as diabetes educators, to learn how to maintain control of the disease.
- Maintain regular contact with the affected person’s doctor.
- Inform all health professionals with whom the affected person has contact that they have diabetes.
- Perform regular blood glucose monitoring to keep track.
- Wear proper footwear and examine your feet every night for problems.
- Eat a healthy diet avoiding sugars and saturated fats. In this way, an adequate weight will be maintained, which helps people with diabetes. It is recommended to eat less fat and healthier foods that contain carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, bread and legumes. You can use vitamins for older people with diabetes to provide that extra energy that is missing.
- Lose weight.
- Do some kind of physical activity.
- Give up smoking.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Make sure the elderly person with diabetes takes their medicine according to the doctor’s instructions.
- Frequently check the condition of the skin. Ulcers can appear in the friction areas of the body, which in the short and long term can lead to great problems.
A very good tip is to use apps for this purpose or to set alarms that remind you of the need for insulin or oral antidiabetics.
It is important to lead an orderly life, so following a meal and rest schedule will make diabetes easier to control.