Type 2 Diabetes and Seniors

Type 2 diabetes is more common than you may think. In fact, one in four people in the United States are affected by it.

Your risk of getting the disease also increases as you get older. Understanding the disease, the symptoms and the early signs is more important than ever, as you or someone you know may develop diabetes.

Genetics, unfortunately, play a role in whether you are likely to develop it. However, there are certain steps you may take to prevent this from happening. For instance, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and frequently visiting the doctor may lower your risk.

Unfortunately, you may have already developed type 2 diabetes. If so, it is extremely important that you work to improve your health and follow your doctor’s instructions. Managing the disease is essential if you want to improve your quality of life. Otherwise, you may develop other, very serious health issues, such as blindness, hearing loss and dementia.

Your doctor may prescribe regular insulin shots if your case is severe. If your case is less severe, you may be able to regulate your blood sugar levels with a good diet and consistent exercise. Discover more about type 2 diabetes and its effect on senior citizens with our informative guidelines.

An Explanation of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body’s inability to use insulin properly. Normally, your pancreas produces insulin after you eat food. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose levels in your blood. When some of the food you eat breaks down into glucose, your pancreas releases an appropriate amount of insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas will first overproduce insulin in response to the hormone not being used. However, your pancreas will eventually be unable to make enough insulin because it is overworked. This results in extremely high blood glucose levels, which can cause severe health complications.

Because type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the United States, it is important for older and younger generations alike to become well-informed on the topic. It may even develop in children and young adults. It is most prevalent among middle-aged adults and elderly adults. Patients are more likely to get it if you are 45 years of age or older, so it is important for adults to conduct diabetes screenings.

In addition, more than 25 percent of seniors above 65 years of age have developed the disease.

Common Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

It is crucial for you to know the symptoms of diabetes type 2 in case you develop them. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, excessive hunger or thirst, weight loss when you are not trying to lose weight, frequent urination and blurry vision.

If you have an infection, cut or bruise, it may also take your body longer to heal. Remember to visit your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. He or she may be able to rule out diabetes or have you go for further testing.

Diagnosing Type 2 Diabetes

After detecting early signs of type 2 diabetes, it is important for you to visit a doctor in order to receive formal testing. You may be especially at risk for the disease if your family has a history of diabetes, you are overweight and have high blood pressure as a senior.  Usually, your doctor or phlebotomist will take several blood samples. You must undergo the following tests as well:

  • Random plasma glucose test, which may be administered at any time of day.
  • A1C test, which shows your glucose levels for the previous, most recent three months. This may also be administered at any time of day.
  • Fasting plasma glucose testing, which will test your blood glucose levels while there is no food in your system.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test, which is taken once after overnight fasting and again after two hours without drinking sweet beverages.

Though you may not need to take all these tests, your doctor will most likely prescribe at least two of them before determining whether you have the disease.

How to Live with Diabetes Type 2 as a Senior

If you have type 2 diabetes and are unable to regulate your blood glucose levels with diet and exercise, you may need medication. This may come in the form of a diabetes medication or insulin injections.

You must work to improve your lifestyle regardless of how severe your type 2 diabetes is. This is crucial if you want to improve and experience a better quality of life.

There are four common ways to manage type 2 diabetes:

  • Keep an organized account of your glucose levels, so you know when they are too high or too low and what causes dramatic changes to these levels.
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. You may need to lose weight in order to see improvements. In all cases, you must ensure that you get the right proportions of nutrients and vitamins each day and avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods.
  • Exercise as frequently as possible. This may dramatically improve your glucose levels, even if you do no more than walk once per day.
  • Take your prescribed medication each day and at the right time. Do this even on the days you do not experience any symptoms. If you have adverse side effects, contact your doctor.

In addition, it is important for you to have your average blood glucose levels checked at least twice per year. This will help your doctor see whether you are improving. It is also wise to go for a yearly eye exam, as diabetes may negatively affect your vision.

Finally, you may need to take a yearly kidney exam with a urine or blood test, because diabetes may negatively affect your kidneys.

The Long-Term Effects of Untreated Type 2 Diabetes in Seniors

You may experience severe health issues if your diabetes is left untreated or you do not abide by your doctor’s management advice. You may find yourself in a constant state of stress or fatigue, as your body will not be able to recover from blood glucose levels that are always too high.

Furthermore, your vision may be permanently damaged due to high blood pressure. Your hearing might also diminish, as will the sharpness of your mind. In fact, you may even develop dementia and cognitive impairment from abnormally high blood glucose levels.

Finally, you may experience foot damage or neuropathy, which is characterized by numbness and the inability to feel pain in feet and toes.