Written by James Fleming
According to the most recent data, 30.3 million Americans had been diagnosed with diabetes. Of those 30.3 million people, 12 million were senior citizens over the age of 65. That’s 25.2 percent of the senior population.
If you’re a senior citizen with diabetes, it’s easy to feel as though the disease runs your life. That definitely doesn’t have to be the case, though.
Listed below are some important diabetes management tips that will help seniors enjoy a better quality of life.
- Monitor Your Blood Sugar
Diabetics of all ages need to make sure they’re monitoring their blood sugar regularly. However, this is especially important for senior citizens.
By managing your blood sugar, you can prevent a variety of serious illnesses and complications, including high blood pressure, neuropathy, and vision problems.
Make sure you’re monitoring your sugar at the same time each day to make it a habit. Keep track of your levels each day and bring the information to your next doctor appointment. Your doctor can use this information to help you figure out the right protocol for controlling your sugar and maintaining your health.
Seniors tend to have issues with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) rather than hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Low blood sugar can increase your chances of getting dizzy and falling, so it’s important to check your levels and make sure they are high enough throughout the day.
- Manage Your Medication
As you get older, it can be harder to stay on top of your diabetes medication. It’s essential that you do so, though. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for a variety of complications.
These days, there are lots of devices designed to help people manage their medication. Some pillboxes even come with alarms that remind you of when it’s time to take your medication.
Not very tech savvy? You can also use a simple paper chart or calendar and check off each day after you’ve taken your medicine.
- Don’t Blame Everything on Neuropathy
Neuropathy is much more common among senior diabetics than it is among younger diabetics. Because of this, it’s easy to blame it for any kind of pain or dysfunction you’re experiencing. It’s important to take note of other conditions you could be suffering from, though.
For example, many diabetics with hand pain think they’re suffering from neuropathy when they’re actually dealing with issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Advanced glycation end-products (proteins that become sticky when exposed to sugars) can collect on the tendons of the palms of long-term diabetics. This causes nerve compression and the pain, numbness, and/or tingling that’s associated with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with laparoscopic surgery or by wearing a special brace.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Diet can make a huge difference in the quality of life for diabetic senior citizens. But, many diabetic seniors aren’t eating the kinds of foods that promote healthy blood sugar levels.
Some foods that diabetic seniors should avoid include:
- Sugar (especially from processed or packaged foods)
- High-sugar fruits
- Refined grains and cereals
- Fruit juice and soda
Instead, seniors should fill their grocery carts with the following staples:
- Low-sugar fruits (apples, berries, etc.)
- Dark green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.)
- Orange vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.)
- Healthy fats (avocados, olive oil, olives, nuts, etc.)
- Whole grain carbohydrates
- High-quality protein sources (beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc.)
- Stay Active
Regular exercise is another essential for diabetic seniors (and all seniors, for that matter) who want to stay healthy and happy.
Some seniors shy away from exercise because they’re afraid that they’re going to get hurt. In reality, though, exercise is one of the best things seniors can do to prevent injuries.
Great forms of exercise for seniors include:
- Resistance training
These types of exercise help seniors manage their weight, control blood sugar, and maintain their muscle mass.
Even if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, you can still maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. Keep these simple management tips in mind to stay on top of your condition and keep complications at bay.