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When You Are a Senior with Diabetes

Meghana Giridhar - November 04, 2015 11:07 AM

November is National Diabetes Month. Almost 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, according to American Diabetes Association.

Type 1 diabetes, earlier known as juvenile diabetes is common among children and young adults. Only 5% of people with diabetes suffer from this type. Type 1 diabetes happens when your immune system destroys cells in your pancreas called beta cells that make insulin. This reduces the movement of glucose leading to a build-up in the blood. This causes high blood sugar, which can lead to dehydration, weight loss and other damage to the body. American Diabetes Association provides detailed information about living with type 1 diabetes and tips to manage it.

Diabetes affects nearly 25.9% of Americans over the age of 65, according to American Diabetes Association . As people get older, their risk for Type 2 diabetes increases with 1 in 4 seniors above the age affected by the disease. Type 2 diabetes occurs due to insufficient insulin in the body. Insulin is needed to activate the body’s cells to use the glucose we receive from food. With reduced insulin, the glucose is not used as energy causing retention and leading to serious health conditions.

Living with diabetes is not easy but it gets tougher when age is a factor. Seniors face higher risk of complications such as:

•    Heart and blood diseases known as cardiovascular diseases
•    Eye disease called diabetic retinopathy
•    Other eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, blindness
•    Kidney disease
•    Nerve disease
•    Hearing loss
•    Dental problems
•    Depression

Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include:

•    Obesity or severe weight loss
•    Fatigue
•    Numbness
•    Slow healing wounds
•    Blurred vision
•    Urinary tract infections
•    Gum disease

The American Diabetes Association recommends certain tips to enable seniors with diabetes to live a better quality life. These cover:


Diabetes can be managed by making changes to meal plans, after consulting with a doctor. Your diet should include grains, milk, protein, fruit and non-starchy vegetables.
•    Grains comprise of whole grain bread, cereal, oatmeal, rice, pasta, beans, potato, peas etc
•    Milk should be skimmed or low-fat milk. Soymilk is also recommended.
•    Fruits should always be fresh
•    Protein includes chicken or turkey without the skin, fish, lean cuts of beef or pork, eggs, tofu
•    Non-starchy vegetables include carrots, leafy greens, cauliflower, tomatoes, vegetables, okra, mushrooms to name a few.

Dietitians can help with making changes to a senior’s food choices and enable them to consume the right amounts.

Physical Fitness:

Keeping active is another key aspect of managing diabetes.

•    Aerobic exercises keep the heart strong. Dancing, walking, tennis, gardening are some forms of aerobic exercises.
•    Strength training helps to build and maintain muscle and must be followed twice a week. Examples include yoga, climbing stairs carrying groceries.
•    Balance exercises help maintain steadiness and must be done 3 or more days a week. Standing on one foot or standing from a sitting position is helpful.

Watching blood glucose levels and taking medication prescribed by doctors are additional measures. Seniors with diabetes must work with their doctor to make the right choices towards managing the disease to delay health conditions and live an active, fulfilling life.

Additional Resources:

Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Manager and is part of eCareDiary's founding team. In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms.

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