Preventing and Managing Diabetes in Older Adults

Risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include having pre-diabetes, being overweight, having a family history of the condition, being sedentary, and being over the age of 45. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease or stroke, diabetic complications and premature death.  The number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes has steadily increased over the past few decades.  But even as seniors, people at risk for developing diabetes can make lifestyle changes that can help prevent the progression of the chronic condition, avoiding further impairment – and education is the first step. 

Many older adults live with multiple chronic health conditions that are worsened by lifestyle choices.  According to a recent Woodslake Home Care blog post, experts recommend increasing physical activity and eating a plant-based diet to help prevent diabetes among older adults.   In addition to moving more and eating a healthier diet, seniors can also lower their risk for diabetes by eliminating highly processed foods, limiting or eliminating alcohol, and quitting smoking. 

Seniors may experience different symptoms of diabetes affected by the body’s diminished ability to process glucose as an energy source. Fatigue, frequent urination and excessive thirst are some of the most common symptoms of diabetes.  Wounds that heal slowly, blurry vision, or tingling and numbness in the hands and feet are also possible.  Having regular health screenings is crucial to catch diabetic symptoms among older adults and beginning appropriate treatment.  Early detection can support diagnosis and treatment, and help slow the progression of the condition, preventing serious complications. 

If caught early, some seniors who are on the borderline of a diabetes diagnosis may be able to slow or prevent the progression of the condition with lifestyle changes in diet and exercise.  In more severe cases, insulin therapy may be indicated to balance glucose levels and careful monitoring will be necessary to stay in balance and prevent disability.  Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol is also important in managing diabetes. 

Learn more about diabetes in older people by following this link to the National Institute on Aging website.