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Elderly Face Special Challenges in Managing Diabetes

Date Added: November 21, 2011 10:12:04 AM
Author: John Beecher
Category: Health and Beauty

Diabetes is a progressive disease so the elderly, who may have had diabetes much longer than young people, face daunting challenges in managing Type 2 diabetes.The advice contained in this article may help you.

By Wyatt Myers

Many people are living long with diabetes; however the elderly face special challenges in managing diabetes than younger populations.

The most recent American Diabetes Association estimates show that 10.9 million, or almost 27 percent, of Americans age 65 and older have diabetes. An additional 50 percent of Americans over age 65 are at risk of developing diabetes sometime in their futures. That risk is calledprediabetes.

Add those percentages together and we find that 77 percent of the eldery population in the United States either have or are at risk of developing diabetes.

The World Diabetes Foundation projects that by the year 2030, the 60- to 79-year-old age group will be the group with the highest level ofdiabetes worldwide and have a total of 196 million people with diabetes.

Challenges of Managing Diabetes When You Are Elderly

While everybody with diabetes faces the risk of severe and even life-threatening complications, some of these issues can be of even greater concern to elderly people with diabetes

“Many of the symptoms of diabetes are also potential symptoms of the aging process, such as blurry vision,” says Rebecca Dority, RD, a certified diabetes educator and instructor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Christian University. “It might be difficult for the patient or health care professionals to distinguish between the normal aging process and symptoms of uncontrolled diabetes.”

Another issue, says Dority, is that some elderly people lack the support system of younger individuals with diabetes.

“Many elderly live alone or without a proper support system, have low income, have difficulty performing physical activity, or may have difficulty leaving their home for doctor’s appointments or to shop for food,” she says.“All of these things might make medication management and healthy eating a challenge.”

Problems Develop Over Time

But perhaps the greatest risk for the elderly is simply that they have lived longer with diabetes than younger people. Diabetes is a progressive disease, that means, depending on the age at which they were diagnosed,  they usually have had longer to develop complications or for those complications to get worse.

“The risks of diabetes complications, such as eye, kidney and nerve disease, occur after many years of high blood sugar,” says Merri Pendergrass, MD, PhD, national practice leader of the Medco Diabetes Therapeutic Resource Center.

Here’s how to ensure that you or your loved ones receive the best diabetic care possible

Luckily, diabetic complications are not necessarily an inevitable conclusion of growing older with diabetes.

The secret to preventing the complications is to control your blood sugar, says Etie Moghissi, MD, president-elect of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

“To help avoid low blood sugar, people with diabetes should develop and stay close to a schedule of eating, activity and medication,” she says.

They should carry their blood glucose meter and extra test strips and a lancet device as well as snacks with them to help keep their blood sugar in control. Avoid skipping meals and talk with your doctor about your current medications and ask him or her about new medications which may benefit you. Tell your doctor about any substantial change in your exercise routine. You are exercising or engaging in regular physical activity, aren’t you?

Elderly people with diabetes also need to take steps to monitor and control their heart health, says Dr. Pendergrass. (For instance, there are easy to use blood pressure cuffs that you can use to test your own blood pressure levels)..

“In older people, heart disease and strokes are among the greatest diabetes risks, so risks for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, need to be treated very aggressively,” she says.

(Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of ACE inhibitors, ARBS, and other blood pressure medications as well as statins and other drugs for high cholesterol. You can look up ACE inhibitors as well as other drugs in our interactive encyclopedia).

© 2011 Sanare LLC, Total Diabetes Management Solution published on www.BrightSky.com.  Reprinted with permission. This article can be used on your website provided all the links in the article are complete and active and the actual article is run as provided with no additions.

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