Every November, healthcare professionals take part in American Diabetes Month, to raise awareness for a disease affecting millions of people across the country. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015, more than 30 million Americans had some form of the disease. Another 84.1 million Americans had prediabetes — signaling higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, which is an early warning sign for developing the disease.
While many see diabetes as a childhood disorder, the highest percentage of cases occur in Americans over the age of 65. In 2015, 12 million seniors — or 25% of the population — had diabetes. This high percentage helps explain why diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in this country, underlying or contributing to more than 300,000 deaths annually.
Not only does the disease carry a high human cost, but it also comes with a very high price tag. In 2017, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States was $327 billion. With so much on the line, seniors and their caregivers must understand this disease and do everything they can to manage it effectively.
Diabetes is a disease where your blood glucose — or blood sugar — levels are too high. Left untreated, high levels of blood glucose can cause widespread damage to your body. Patients experience this disease in four different ways:
- Type 1 Diabetes: Here, a patient’s pancreas does not produce enough insulin — a hormone that controls blood glucose. Most often diagnosed in childhood, type 1 patients control their blood glucose levels with injected insulin.
- Type 2 Diabetes: The more common form of the disease, type 2 patients don’t make or use insulin well. This form of the disease occurs most often in people who are older, obese or do not exercise.
- Gestational Diabetes: Occurring for the first time during pregnancy, gestational diabetes affects about 7 out of every 100 pregnant women. These women are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Prediabetes: People with prediabetes have higher-than-normal blood glucose levels that don’t yet meet the threshold of full-blown diabetes. These people are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and having a heart attack or stroke.
Seniors are at the highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes because they’ve been exposed to sugar in their blood for decades. As we age, it also becomes more challenging to exercise, which is one of the most effective deterrents for diabetes. As a result, seniors suffer most from the disease’s health implications, which include heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage. Many patients with uncontrolled diabetes go blind, lose their limbs due to cuts or sores that won’t heal, or suffer kidney failure.
Living with Diabetes
If you’re already living with diabetes, it’s essential to keep your disease in check. Most patients can do that by paying attention to the four following areas:
- Manage Your Diet: Making good food choices is one of the most critical things people with diabetes can do to control their disease. So, controlling what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat is crucial. This task can be challenging for some people, especially during the holidays.
- Check Your Blood Glucose: Diabetes affects everyone differently. Monitoring your blood glucose levels can be an effective way to learn how food and exercise impact your disease.
- Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity can help control glucose levels in older adults. So, plan how you’ll fit exercise into your life and follow through. It’s that important.
- Take Your Medication: If your doctor prescribed medication to help control your diabetes, be disciplined in taking it.
People with diabetes can live full, healthy lives. However, to do so, they must take responsibility for their health and act accordingly.
In Home Care Can Help
Of course, it can be difficult for many older people to meet their most basic needs, let alone manage a chronic illness. That’s why it’s essential for family members or other caregivers to step in and provide support. In-home caregivers can help this process by providing medication reminders, assisting seniors in staying more active, and cooking nutritious meals.
If you or someone you love lives in Arizona and needs help managing activities of daily living, Generations Home Care can help. Our skilled caregivers are there to help seniors live healthier, more independent lives in their own homes.
Diabetes is a threat that isn’t going away. Some researchers predict that diabetes cases “will increase by 54% to more than 54.9 million Americans” by 2030. Annual deaths are also predicted to climb by 38%, and “total annual medical and societal costs related to diabetes will increase 53% to more than $622 billion by 2030.” With these numbers in mind, we all must work together to continue raising awareness so more people can avoid the disease.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.