When we are aging, our bodies start to change and it can be a challenge to remain active. However, it is important to continue exercising and have healthy habits to maintain good health. Discover how aging and diabetes can go hand-in-hand and what you can do to help.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 25 percent of Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes. All people experience aging, which is called primary aging. People with diabetes experience faster aging, which is called secondary aging. This type of aging can affect your blood vessels, potentially leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and reduced stress in your life can help ward off serious health issues.
- The risk of getting type 2 diabetes increases as you get older. Risk factors include poor dietary choices, lack of exercise, aging, family history, ethnicity, ongoing stress and being overweight. Having diabetes means your body might not produce enough insulin or it may not use it the proper way. Symptoms of diabetes include dry skin, blurry vision, persistent hunger, ongoing thirst, frequent urination, sores that do not heal, fatigue and mood swings. Usually blood tests are done to determine whether you have diabetes. These tests may include a random glucose test, A1C blood test, oral glucose tolerance test and/or fasting glucose test. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin for life and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Those with type 2 diabetes may manage it through lifestyle changes and/or medications as prescribed by a doctor.
- We tend to have less energy as we get older and may develop unhealthy habits. Choose foods that are low in fat and sugar. A good diet includes low-fat dairy, lean meat and fish, whole grains, fruits and plenty of vegetables for more energy. Include at least 30 minutes of exercise into your day. Exercise can boost your mood and also give you increased energy. Maintain a journal to see how well you are keeping up with your diet and exercise plan.
- Keep track of your progress as you make changes in your lifestyle. Use a glucose monitor to check your blood sugar and report fluctuations to your doctor. Check your blood pressure and heart health with a blood pressure monitor. Wear a pedometer or similar fitness device to find out how many steps you take in a day. Try to slowly add more exercise each week. Get a digital scale to monitor your weight. If you gain a few pounds, adjust your exercise and diet routine. Obesity is another factor that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other physical conditions.
- Take care of yourself with the help of a team of medical professionals. Get an eye exam each year and visit the dentist at least twice annually for an exam and cleaning. Ask your doctor about getting the flu shot and pneumonia vaccine. Have a blood test each year to monitor your triglyceride and cholesterol levels as well as an A1C blood test twice a year to determine your average glucose level. Have your blood pressure checked at each medical appointment. Have your feet checked often and consider a podiatrist which is covered by senior health insurance.
- Pamper yourself at home and during your free time. Wear sunscreen with SPF 15+ when you go outside. Keep the sun off your face and eyes with sunglasses and a hat. Check your feet for sores, calluses and infections. Wear seamless socks and shoes that fit correctly. Keep your feet dry and clean. Have slippers and water shoes handy to avoid walking barefoot.
- Learn ways to reduce the stress in your life. Join a club, spend time with friends or family and pursue your favorite hobby. Engage in stretching exercises such as yoga or Tai-Chi. If the stress continues, talk to your doctor about joining a support group or seeing a counselor.
- Find out more about how to cover the cost of health care to encourage you to maintain essential doctor appointments. Medicare can help pay for a variety of services including diabetes tests, eye tests and even dietary planning. Inquire about supplemental insurance and what it may cover for you. Consider working with a dietitian or going to an accredited diabetes self-management program.
As we get older, the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes increases. Being proactive about your health care, fitness and diet can help ward off health problems. With some attention to your personal care and treatment, your older years can become your golden years.