The Holiday Season is Here
With Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the next few months will be filled with celebration, family, and no small amount of sugary treats and high-fat foods. Delicious as all of these are, they pose an extreme risk to diabetics in America.
With more than 12 million seniors over 65 diagnosed with diabetes, eating an unhealthy diet can damage your body and in many cases lead to death. Diabetic seniors face a unique risk during the holidays because many of these holiday treats are home-cooked and don’t include the handy nutritional labels you find on store-bought foods.
Unfortunately, many seniors don’t understand how damaging it is to eat poorly, or, that a poor diet can cause diabetes. So as we enter the holiday season, seniors and their caretakers must approach holiday sweets and treats with extra caution. To begin, it’s important to note that there are two types of diabetes, each with their own challenges and restrictions.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes was formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes, but this contributed to the mistaken belief that it was only a childhood disease. When in fact, Type 1 Diabetes can and does, occur at any age. Fortunately, this form of the disease is rare and represents only 5% of diagnosed cases — very few of which are seniors.
Type 1 Diabetes is very serious, however, because it causes the body to stop producing insulin altogether. As a result, the only available treatment for this form of the disease is insulin replacement shots.
Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes are at a high risk of developing hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. When the body enters hypoglycemia there’s a severe deficit of glucose in the bloodstream. This condition can cause extreme fatigue, painful headaches, seizures, and even death. As a result, Type 1 patients must monitor their blood glucose levels closely.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 — also known as insulin resistance — is the most common form of diabetes. In this form, diabetics don’t use their body’s available insulin correctly. In the early stages of the disease, the pancreas creates more insulin in an attempt to regulate the blood’s glucose levels. But eventually, the pancreas wears out and is unable to keep up. At this point, the body slips into full-blown Type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, people with Type 2 diabetes have many more treatment options than people with Type 1, including dietary supplements, oral medication, and insulin shots. For those who are able, doctors also recommend daily exercise in addition to any prescribed medications, because maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important steps a senior can take to avoid Type 2 Diabetes.
For further information on both Type 1 and 2 and an extensive guide on both, you can visit the ADA’s website.
Foods to Avoid
Whether you’re a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic, managing your diet is a crucial step to take when it comes to being healthy. Diabetic seniors, or seniors at risk for developing diabetes, would be wise to avoid certain foods altogether, regardless if they’re home-cooked or store-bought. They include:
- Sugary treats, such as cookies, scones, brownies, and fudge.
- High-fat animal products (bacon, most red meats, and sausage).
- Sugary drinks like juices, and soda pop in all of its incarnations. Even though it’s sugar-free, diet soda has been shown to contribute to weight gain and should be avoided.
- Highly processed snack foods, like candy, chips, and crackers.
All these foods can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which can eventually lead to hyperglycemia. Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, frequent urination, blurred vision, and headaches. If you experience any of these, contact a doctor immediately so you can receive treatment.
Living with diabetes and managing the disease can be especially difficult for homebound seniors. Keeping up with taking prescriptions, traveling to doctor’s appointments, preparing healthy meals, and just getting through daily life can be a struggle.
To make matter worse, seniors are often susceptible to additional conditions brought on by diabetes. One of the most debilitating of these is diabetic neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage that affects the feet and legs. Patients with diabetic neuropathy are at an increased risk of falling. As a result, even simple tasks, like getting up from the couch, very risky.
If you or a loved one living in Arizona suffers from diabetes or any other debilitating conditions, Generations Home Care can help. Our skilled caregivers work with our clients to accomplish the important tasks of daily living. This includes medication reminders, preparing meals, help with sitting and standing, and so much more.
If you’d like to learn more about our services, contact us at 602-595-HOME (4663) or fill out our online contact form. We’ll then arrange for a free in-home consultation where we learn more about your specific needs and create a customized plan of care. Together we can tackle the holiday season with a healthy mindset that leaves plenty of room for celebration.