Type 2 diabetes is a condition where levels of blood glucose in the body are too high. Many seniors have friends that are already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, so they may worry that they could be someone who is diagnosed next!
It is a serious condition that can happen to anyone of any age, but people aged 65 years and above remain to have the highest prevalence of diabetes compared to any other age group. A senior is more at risk of getting type 2 diabetes if they lead a sedentary lifestyle, have a family history of diabetes, eat an unhealthy diet, or are overweight.
How Does Type 2 Diabetes Start?
Our body turns most of the food we eat into glucose. Glucose is what gives our body energy to function optimally. To turn glucose into energy, a hormone known as insulin, made by the pancreas, is also needed.
Insulin’s primary function is to help glucose enter our cells to supply the body with energy. However, in some cases, the body might not be able to make enough insulin, or the body’s response to insulin may not be functioning optimally. Therefore, there is too much blood glucose in the system. This is how diabetes develops. Over time, too much causes a variety of health problems.
There is no such thing as a mild case of diabetes. Every case of diabetes is serious and needs proper management to sustain a healthy, longer life.
Prediabetes is when an individual’s levels of glucose in the bloodstream are higher than average, but still aren’t at the same level as someone diagnosed with diabetes. If a person is in this stage it can still be reversed, if they take the steps to make the lifestyle changes required. Prediabetes also predisposes an individual to stroke and heart attack, so it is a definite warning sign to make changes fast.
Signs and Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Some of the signs of type 2 diabetes include always feeling tired, vision troubles such as blurred vision, frequent urination, increased hunger and thirst, wounds healing slowly, and skin infections.
In some cases, symptoms of type 2 diabetes can develop very slowly and be hardly noticed. Many senior-aged people assume these symptoms to be a part of growing old, such as when their skin cuts and the wounds don’t heal as fast as they used to. In fact, they may be an indicator of a more serious health problem.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes
To be able to treat diabetes, it has to be diagnosed by a doctor. Diabetes needs proper care and treatment. Make sure you see a doctor if you experience any of the abovementioned signs and symptoms of diabetes, especially if you are in your senior years. To diagnose diabetes doctors conduct several blood tests.
- A1C Test – This shows your average glucose levels within the past 3 months. This test can be given at any time during the day.
- Fasting Plasma Glucose Test – This test necessitates the patient fasting for at least 8 hours.
- Random Plasma Glucose Test – This test can be conducted anytime during the day.
Treating diabetes involves long-term care for the person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Some people with type 2 diabetes are able to manage their condition and symptoms by simply living a healthier lifestyle where diet and exercise are a primary focus. Other people may need diabetes medications and insulin injections to manage their condition. Over time, people with diabetes will need to integrate lifestyle changes along with their medications.
Most diabetes management plans will include ways to track glucose levels, make healthier food choices, and ways to get active.
Diabetes might be a chronic health condition but with proper management, it is possible to get and stay healthy. For elderly people, regular check-ups and assessments will be beneficial in managing the condition. Any changes or updates in a person’s health status, such as the addition of a new health complication, will likely lead to changes in their diabetes management plan as well.
As with any disease, prevention is better than cure. So the best way to not be concerned about having to live with diabetes is to not get it at all! Start eating healthy and start exercising. A sedentary lifestyle will not help you at all.