Tips for Managing Diabetes at HomeJanuary 17, 2024
According to a 2019 study, roughly 11% of Americans have diabetes, but the prevalence in seniors is even more staggering. In this same study, it was revealed nearly 30% of older adults over 65 have some form of diabetes. This could be a result of how the metabolism changes as we age, which can lead to insulin resistance.
Whether you were diagnosed with diabetes 40 years ago or four weeks ago, it’s important to recognize that living with the condition requires constant attention and care. Use these tips for managing diabetes at home to make your life easier and healthier.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic health issue that affects how your body processes glucose (blood sugar). Diabetes primarily comes in two forms:
- Type 1 diabetes: The body does not produce insulin. This causes issues because insulin is necessary for turning the sugar from the foods you eat into energy. If you see someone wearing a patch to treat diabetes, it is more likely they have Type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes: The body does not make insulin well or use it properly. This can be treated with pills or insulin, and is the most common form of diabetes.
There is also a condition called “prediabetes,” where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet considered diabetes. Whether you have prediabetes or diabetes type 1 or 2, it’s crucial you take it seriously. Spend time talking to your doctor about what it means, do research, and then take the proper steps to manage it in addition to your medication.
Know your ABCs
While there is a lot that goes into your diabetes management, there are three key health factors you must continuously monitor to lower your chances of developing diabetes problems such as heart attack or stroke. Your A1C, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels should always be accounted for, but if you struggle to remember the names exactly, think of this: “Do I know my ABCs?”
- A1C test: A test that measures your average blood sugar levels over the past few months. Too high levels could harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes. Those with diabetes should shoot for an A1C of 7 or lower.
- Blood pressure: Your blood pressure is the force of your blood against the walls of your vessels. If your blood pressure is too high, it makes your heart work harder, which can cause heart attack, stroke, and damage to your kidneys and eyes. Those with diabetes should shoot for a blood pressure goal of 140/90.
- Cholesterol: There are two types of cholesterol. Your “bad” cholesterol, or your LDLs, can clog your blood vessels and cause heart attack or stroke. Your “good” cholesterol, or your HDLs, remove “bad” cholesterol from the blood vessels. Ask your doctor what your cholesterol numbers should be.
Stay physically active
Keeping physically active seems to be a solution to many of our health problems, and diabetes is no exception. Regular exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, and as a result, can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. If you don’t currently have a regimen, read our blog post about how to create an exercise routine as a senior and keep these tips in mind.
- Start slow and gradually increase intensity
- Incorporate a variety of exercises
- Use proper form
- Listen to your body
- Consult with your healthcare provider
Even going for a 30-minute walk on a daily basis will benefit your overall well-being. However, before you start a new exercise regimen, make sure you speak with your doctor about whether or not you have to make any adjustments to your medication or insulin dose to keep your levels high enough.
Eat a balanced diet
Just as physical activity is necessary for your overall health, so is a quality diet. Certain foods have more of an impact, both positive and negative, on our blood sugar levels, and it is important to recognize those. For instance, carbohydrates have a substantial impact on your blood sugar, so it is crucial to know how many are in your meal.
Your meals should always have a good mix of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. On average, you should avoid drinks and foods that are high in calories with little nutritional value, such as juice or candy. The exception to this rule, however, is to quickly treat low blood sugar. Speak with your doctor or a registered dietitian about creating a diet plan that fits your needs.
Make regular blood sugar checks
Thankfully, monitoring your blood sugar levels at home is easier than ever. Using a blood sugar finger prick test kit, you can check your blood sugar several times a day to determine what and when to eat. These monitors may even be built into your insulin pump. Talk to your doctor about your options, as well as how often you should be checking your blood sugar levels.
Stress negatively impacts all aspects of one’s health—even your diabetes. High levels of stress may raise your blood sugar. This can lead to issues with your insulin sensitivity. If you experience chronic stress, make strides to combat it with breathing exercises, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.
Home care assistance for individuals with diabetes
In the journey of managing diabetes at home, support is not only valuable but a vital component of success. This support extends beyond the immediate circle of family and friends. It reaches into the realm of professional caregivers who understand the unique needs of seniors with diabetes.
Home Care Powered by AUAF is here to provide that essential support. Our team of dedicated caregivers is trained to offer comprehensive assistance, including medication reminders, meal planning, and creating a safe, stress-free environment for seniors. We recognize that managing diabetes can be complex, but with the right assistance, it’s entirely possible. Reach out to us at (773) 274-9262 and learn more about how our services can make a positive difference in your life.
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