Diabetes, and the particular symptoms that it creates, impact an astonishing number of Canadians of diverse ages, from varying backgrounds.
When it comes to seniors, the difficulties that accompany Diabetes can be even more challenging to deal with because of the more delicate state of overall health that many seniors experience in their older age. To make sure that all needs are being appropriately met and tended to, it is important that caregivers and loved-ones of seniors with Diabetes become more aware of information related to the nature of the disease, how it alters seniors’ bodies and lifestyles, and what measures can be taken to set up a better quality of life for seniors dealing with the realities of Diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
The term ‘Diabetes’ refers to a set of metabolic diseases that generate problems with blood sugar, because levels of insulin created or used within the body are inadequate. This deficiency can either come from insufficient production of insulin in the body, or because the body’s cells are not able to appropriately respond to the insulin that is made. The following is some basic information concerning Diabetes that offers a baseline of information from which point further knowledge can be sought:
- Type 1 Diabetes: This type of Diabetes was formerly referred to as juvenile or insulin-dependent Diabetes, and the people who experience Type 1 are most often children, teens, or adults below the age of 35. It is with this form of Diabetes that the body produces no insulin whatsoever, and people with Type 1 will require insulin pumps or injections throughout the duration of their lives to supplement the insulin that is not being naturally produced by the body.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Formerly referred to as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent Diabetes, Type 2 causes the pancreas to produce a lessened amount of insulin, or leads the body to be unable to properly use the insulin that is available. More common in older adults, Type 2 is especially common in people who are inactive, overweight, have poor diets, or have a family history of Diabetes. It is this type of Diabetes that is known to impact the elderly, as their lower levels of physical activity, associated weight gain, and potentially weaker state of general health make them more vulnerable to developing the disease.
- Hyperglycemia: An excess amount of glucose in the blood-stream, high-blood sugar occurs as a direct result of the insulin deficiencies associated with Diabetes. Hyperglycemia can cause symptoms such as constant hunger, increased levels of thirst, and more frequent urination.
- Hypoglycemia: An insufficient amount of glucose in the blood-stream, low blood sugar may also be experienced by individuals with Diabetes, either as a result of taking an excess of insulin or other medication, failing to consume enough food, or being more active than usual.
Tending to Diabetes
The symptoms of Diabetes can be widespread, and can alter seniors’ lifestyles in a whole bunch of varied ways. While Diabetes cannot be cured, meeting with a healthcare professional to talk about an appropriate healthcare, medication, and lifestyle regime offers the opportunity to help keep symptoms under control and educe the ways in which Diabetes inhibits the living of a full life. Caregivers of seniors with Diabetes can also help encourage behaviours, routines, and support systems that can foster a better quality of life and keep seniors as healthy as possible.
- Eat Well: The fact that Diabetes impacts the body’s capacity to work with glucose means that there are some dietary considerations that need to be made to help promote better health for seniors with Diabetes. Some people will need to adjust their eating habits to involve more fruits and vegetables, reduce refined sugar intake, and manage carbohydrate consumption, among other things. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine what dietary alterations will be the most helpful.
- Exercise: Exercise is always helpful for keeping the body in good and healthy shape, but is especially important for seniors with Diabetes. Exercise helps facilitate proper use of glucose within the body, can help with overall physical fitness, can help manage weight, and can empower seniors to feel better about their physical bodies.
- Foot Care: Tending to the health of feet is especially important for diabetics, and seniors might need some support in this area, particularly if they struggle with mobility. Diabetes often causes loss of feeling in the feet, meaning that pain or problems with the feet may not be felt and, therefore, may go unnoticed. For this reason, feet should be checked on a regular basis for sores, injuries, infections, and other potential problems.
- See a Healthcare Professional: Make sure that seniors maintain an ongoing and consistent relationship with healthcare professionals who can recommend treatments, medications, and lifestyle adjustments and can subsequently assess the effectiveness of these choices to make alterations as necessary.
- Seek Support: Many people find comfort in knowing that there are other people who have shared experiences, with whom points of view, concerns, and questions can be shared. Seniors may benefit from seeking out support groups that can deliver a sense of community and a setting in which to open up.
- Stop Unhealthy Habits: Encouraging seniors to stop unhealthy habits such as smoking and consuming alcohol can help protect them from developing further complications to their health, such as nerve damage or heart problems that can be additionally difficult to deal with on top of Diabetes. The fewer bad habits and more healthy choices that seniors engage in can help keep them healthy longer.
Facing the realities that come along with Diabetes can be challenging, but so many options and choices are available that can help seniors and their caregivers access opportunities to reduce the impact that Diabetes has on everyday life. Resources are available in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge that can help seniors make good and healthy choices, become more informed about their condition, and pursue a more healthy and happy life for themselves.