Australian statistics show that one in six seniors above 65 has diabetes. That makes 574,000 seniors living with diabetes. If you are 85 years or above, then you belong to the high-risk group. How can you control your diabetes?
Seniors are most affected by Type II diabetes as it may cause hospitalisation and even death when this chronic disease is not managed with care. The symptoms of Type II diabetes such as excessive urination, feeling thirsty, tired or lethargic, dizziness and confusion are often missed as they are non-specific and common in elderly patients.
Get Professional Advice for your diabetes
As you are getting older, it becomes difficult to manage all signs of diabetes. You may face physical and mental changes from natural aging, making it difficult to stay independent.
Diabetes plan: Aging changes the way your body absorbs medicines and responds to changes in your glucose levels. This can result in a greater risk of falls, as diabetes may affect your vision, your balance, and the feeling in your feet. Your doctor is in the best position to review your diabetes targets and propose the best plan to manage your glucose levels, avoiding hypo- or hyperglycemia.
Diabetes Monitoring: In addition, consider the use of diabetes monitoring products to ensure you have a suitable glucose control meter, syringes and pen needles you find convenient.
Side effects: Above all, organise yourself with dose administration aids and calendars. Memory loss is common in the elderly, especially in combination with diabetes. Anxiety, depression, loneliness and fear of the future can worsen your condition. Memory devices, alarms and checklists work great, or you could have a friend or family member remind you.
Your doctor can help if you lose your appetite, have trouble sleeping, do not feel motivated, if you feel like socialising less often, or neglect your personal care.
Mobility: Falls are another concern, and you may want to look for the right shoes, socks, prepare a plan, review medicines, mobility support products, and use lights to prevent falls.
Moreover, pill organisers and medicine planners are a prudent choice.
Test: Testing your eyes, ears, feet, or any painful conditions is part of good diabetes management. Ensure good eye care with laptop eye protectors, eye patches, and sleep masks. Use earplugs, hearing aid cleaners and dryers, and ear wax removal kits whenever needed.
Look for aids for daily living as they are designed to make daily routine tasks easier.
Buying healthcare essentials can empower you to live independently such as:
- bathroom aids (safety grips and bars, double vision mirrors, bathtub safety bench and or shower chair),
- bed accessories (bed handles, neck pillows, bed steps, and LED flashlights)
- personal care products (monitoring devices, yoga mat, foot massager, closet organiser and diabetic socks).
When working on your PC, use technology products to minimise the adverse effects of prolonged computer use.
Digital screen protectors, blue light blockers, and screen magnifiers protect your eyes from harmful rays and eye strain. Digital voice recorders, talking calculators, optical character recognition technology, large-key-keyboards and Bluetooth keyboards simplify diabetes management.
Eat Nutritious Food, Invest in Fitness Equipment and Keep Active
Staying active during your senior years, helps you maintain good muscle strength, balance and flexibility while also improving insulin sensitivity.
Healthy food: Nourishment, hydration, and healthy eating are the hallmarks of optimal diabetes management.
Your food choices affect your blood pressure, glucose level, and cholesterol. Therefore, eat a variety of foods and drink plenty of fluids.
For a healthy diet, we would recommend including calcium high foods such as milk and milk products to increase bone strength. Also, make sure to include plenty of protein into your diet as it helps the body to grow new tissue, build muscle and repair damage. In addition, protein can also be broken down by the body into glucose and used for energy.
Further, select whole foods, vegetables, fruits, and nuts to increase your fibre intake, which helps slow down the absorption of sugar to improve blood sugar levels.
Finally, fortify your diet with potassium (bananas, prunes, plums), zinc (yoghurt, cheese, nuts, seeds), magnesium (lean meat, legumes, whole grain), and omega-3 (salmon, tuna, mackerel, flaxseeds, soybeans).
Exercise: When handling diabetes, an optimal fitness regime includes engaging in exercises that give you strength, flexibility, and improve balance. Try and get access to fitness equipment that can easily be used on a daily basis in your home. This includes senior-friendly foot and arm pedal exercisers, dumbbells, shoulder physiotherapy rope, exercise bands and pedometers, and activity trackers to monitor your fitness goals. You may want to consult an exercise physiologist to plan a fitness regime that suits your needs. If needed, use a cane or walker to promote your mobility.
Assistive devices: Though it is important to maintain a healthy diet, working in the kitchen may pose challenges for the elderly. Cut-resistant gloves, low-vision cutting boards, vegetable slicing equipment, hot surface handlers, and reading stands can make your life easy while preparing nutritious food.
Talk to your healthcare team regularly and rely on diabetes aids to promote wellness and superior quality of life with diabetes. These products and practical daily living aids will help you manage your diabetes, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Finally, maintain a positive outlook on life and plan in advance with your healthcare professional.