According to the American Diabetes Association, around 25% of adults older than age 60 have diabetes. And, as you get older, your risk for type 2 diabetes increases. If an aging loved one currently has diabetes, the way the condition is managed throughout the aging process may need some adjustments to ensure the individual is enjoying the highest quality of life.
Seniors and Diabetes: Managing their Care
Help your loved one enjoy a healthy, active life by ensuring you know as much about their condition as possible. Proper diabetes care means eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and taking the necessary medications to control the condition regularly. However, changes in mobility, lifestyle, memory and overall health as loved ones age can make managing diabetes difficult.
If you suspect a loved one is having trouble managing type 2 diabetes, here are five ways to provide assistance:
Educate yourself about type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, occurring when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes, the more common form of diabetes, is also known as “adult onset” diabetes, occurring most often in those age 35 and older. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body isn’t using or making insulin properly. Learn more about the proper management of type 2 diabetes, as well as the risk factors, symptoms and causes of type 2 diabetes to ensure you’re as educated as possible about your loved one’s condition.
Watch for physical changes. If you start to notice differences in your loved one’s appearance, mood and mobility, it’s possible a decline in health or cognition is making it difficult for them to manage their diabetes. For example, changes in vision or loss of fine-motor skills can lead to the inability to properly test blood glucose levels, a necessary step in diabetes self-care.
When in doubt, ask. It can be as simple as having a conversation with your loved one about how well they’re feeling, if their overall health is as good as it could be and if they need any help with daily activities. Sometimes, aging adults are too proud to admit they need some assistance and may be very thankful for the offer to help with their daily diabetes care.
Help loved ones make healthy lifestyle choices. Proper diabetes management is about not only managing blood glucose levels, but also making healthy lifestyle choices. Help your loved one plan nutritious meals for the week, or invite them out for an invigorating walk around the neighborhood. Even losing just 10-15 pounds can make a major difference in the overall health of those with type 2 diabetes.
Encourage regular check-ups. To avoid complications, your loved one needs to maintain annual visits to their primary care physician, as well as vision and dental exams. They should also get their kidneys and cholesterol levels checked. Help them schedule and keep a calendar of these important appointments.