As we age, we must watch our health closely and take special care to address the evolving needs of an elderly body. It may be easy to shrug off minor aches and pains, but we need to be mindful that those aches and pains may be signals of more serious health problems.

One of the leading health concerns among senior citizens is diabetes. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 100 million people either have diabetes or pre-diabetes. When it comes to people over 65 years old, 25% are either diabetic or pre-diabetic and are the age group most at risk for developing the disease.


Diabetes Overview

Since diabetes is a common health concern with the elderly, it is important to learn the warning signs early and self-monitor for potential health concerns. Some of the symptoms to look for include:

  • gum disease
  • blurry vision
  • unexpected weight gain or loss
  • fatigue
  • increased thirst

If you notice any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you consult with a medical professional as soon as possible.

If your primary care provider diagnoses you with diabetes, they will monitor your blood sugar levels and suggest a treatment program to manage your diabetes best. If it is caught early enough in the pre-diabetes phase, the condition may be treated with a change in diet and possibly oral medication, if needed. However, if the disease has progressed beyond those treatment options, you may need to have daily insulin injections to replace that which is not being naturally produced by your body.


Basic Diabetes Maintenance

Sometimes it can be challenging to keep your blood sugar levels within the range your doctor recommends, especially since your levels can change quickly and unexpectedly.

However, there are a few simple things that you can do to help keep your blood sugar well maintained. Developing and implementing a diet plan with a nutritionist built around healthy, low or sugar-free foods is a good first step.

If their overall health allows, people with diabetes should also consider starting an exercise regimen that includes at least 10-30 minutes of moderate activity a day, building up endurance and stamina over time. Listen to your doctor’s orders as to when you should take your insulin and other diabetes medication.

Manage your stress, and keep your alcohol consumption to no more than 2 drinks per day.


Diabetes Health Risks and Complications

As the disease progresses, it is important to monitor your blood glucose levels. The longer you have diabetes, the higher the risk of complications, especially if your blood sugar is not well controlled.

Having levels that are too high or too low can create additional health issues, some of which have the potential to be life-threatening.

Improperly managed diabetes may lead to other health conditions such as blindness, heart disease, skin disorders, nerve damage, kidney damage, hearing impairment, and in severe cases that go untreated, death.


The Need For Exercise

People with diabetes should do their best to perform aerobic exercises with a goal of 30 minutes a day for most days of the week.

Aerobic exercise involves repeated movement of large muscle groups, so great activities to try would be walking, cycling, jogging, and swimming.

Studies have shown that there are plenty of benefits that come with regular aerobic exercise for diabetics, such as lower blood glucose levels and a boost in your body’s sensitivity to insulin.


Need For Proper Nutrition

Creating a healthy eating plan can make it easier to control your blood sugar, and it’s not that hard to do! A diabetes diet includes eating healthy foods in moderate amounts during regular meal times.

Dietitians recommend that fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are nutritionally dense and low in fat are the best foods for diabetes. With proper care, senior citizens with diabetes can have a long and healthy life.


Additional Resources

To learn more about diabetes and senior citizens, please review the following information.