Diabetes is one of the leading health concerns among older adults. According to the CDC, more than 29% of people over the age of 65 have diabetes. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can contribute to serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and increased risk for dementia, stroke, and much more.
The good news is that diabetes can be managed and even prevented with a few lifestyle changes. Here are some diabetes management and prevention tips for seniors:
- Eat a healthy diet: When you eat food, your body breaks down carbohydrates into a simple sugar called glucose. Your pancreas then releases a hormone called insulin that signals the cells in your body to uptake the glucose in your bloodstream to use for energy. With diabetes, the cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin – causing more glucose to remain in the bloodstream. With this in mind, your daily diet is the number one way to control your blood sugar levels and manage diabetes. Focus on incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins into your meals while limiting the amount of refined sugars and simple starches. It’s also a good idea to work with your doctor or a nutritionist to discuss any recipe modifications, portion sizes, and meal scheduling that may work best for your needs.
- Stay active: Regular physical activity can help lower your risk of developing diabetes and can also help control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as low-impact exercises, most days of the week.
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels: Monitoring your blood sugar levels can help you and your healthcare provider determine the effectiveness of your diabetes treatment plan. Ask your doctor how often you should check your blood sugar and what your target levels should be. Keeping a log of your blood sugar levels and sharing it with your healthcare provider can be helpful for fine-tuning your treatment plan.
- Take your medication as prescribed: If you have diabetes, it is important to take your medication as prescribed. This will help control your blood sugar levels and prevent complications.
- Manage your stress: Stress can affect blood sugar levels, so it is important to practice healthy ways of managing stress. This can include activities such as meditation, yoga, relaxing hobbies, or getting an occasional massage.
- Talk with your doctor: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help catch any potential diabetes-related complications early on. Your healthcare provider will also be able to adjust your treatment plan as needed.
Living with diabetes can be challenging, but with the right management and prevention strategies, seniors can lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Remember to work closely with your healthcare provider, and make lifestyle changes that you can maintain over the long term.