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Need to Know

Elderly Advice: How to Manage Diabetes

Diabetes is a major concern for the elderly, affecting more than twenty-seven percent of older adults.

Adults with diabetes face higher risks of long-term health care issues like heart attacks, kidney disease, and blindness, therefore, running higher risks of ending up in assisted living facilities.

A recent blog article by the Times indicated that relaxing could help promote a healthy lifestyle rather than constantly stressing to reach a certain number.

While it is important to operate within the confines of diabetic diets and ensure that healthy glucose levels are being maintained, “Sometimes quality of life is more important…”. Dr. Medha Munshi works with diabetics at the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston and often tells anxious relatives that relaxing can be a good thing.

In some cases, aggressive treatment of diabetes can lead to other health problems, such as hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Thus it is important to ease into and maintain healthy levels of glucose. Especially for elderly people with other long-term illnesses, low blood glucose levels can be more dangerous than high blood glucose levels.

Typical signs of low blood glucose levels are dizziness, cognitive decline, and fatigue. These can lead to complications like heart disease long term cognitive disability and can increase fall risk in the elderly. Thus there are many reasons to treat diabetes in the elderly differently from how it would be treated in a younger patient. Because lots of treatment and moderation related to diabetes is often to prevent further difficulties in the next forty to fifty years, for the elderly, these treatments and constant restrictions do not necessarily apply.

That is not to say that diabetics should not follow diabetic restrictions, but there needs to be a differentiation between how diabetes is treated amongst the elderly in order to avoid other health side effects that can result from very low sugar levels.

Especially when considering the varying levels of independence each diabetes patient may have, it is important for healthcare providers and care managers to consider this. That way, they can ensure that daily insulin intake is not being forgotten. Considering that exercise is also a key part of maintaining diabetes, physical activity must be done in moderation.

Especially with the elderly, over-exertion is not the point of exercise when related to diabetes. Dr. Muhshi recommends that patients start by walking inside the home to ensure that patients have enough physical strength to not be a fall risk. By forming good habits, like walking around five minutes before a meal, patients will also be less likely to forget to do daily physical activity.

Diabetes is a fast-growing disease within the United States and can lead to many other long-term illnesses. It is important to understand the importance of managing and tackling the disease in a way that will keep elderly patients healthy.

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