Diabetes6 minute read
6 minute read|
Updated for January, 2019
Diabetes comes with new challenges as you grow older. Monitoring your diet and blood sugar is an issue for diabetics of any age. However, aging in place makes it more important than ever to streamline your self-care. You may be checking labels with reading glasses or bifocals and doing your daily exercise with less of your former agility. As you think of proper diabetic foot care, you must also need to take conscious care to prevent falls. And as you manage your insulin, you may also be managing new health and mobility issues.
About one-quarter of Americans over 65 are diabetic and one-half of them are prediabetic.
Do you have diabetes?
Even if you don’t know you have diabetes or prediabetes, check your blood sugar and schedule regular medical checkups. About one-quarter of Americans over 65 are diabetic and one-half of them are prediabetic. This proportion is expected to increase rapidly in the coming decades. Diagnosed cases total 23.1 million, while 7.2 of those Americans remain undiagnosed. This means that 23.8% of people with diabetes right now are not aware that they have the condition.
If you are already diagnosed, has your condition changed?
Ask your doctor about your current condition. Monitoring your A1c helps you assess what you may need to change. The earlier you know that your medication needs to be increased or updated, the better you will feel.
New risks of older diabetics
Mature diabetics are more likely to die prematurely. They face greater risks than older non-diabetics of losing their functional ability or muscle mass, and their chances of coexisting illnesses like coronary heart disease or hypertension, and end-stage renal failure are higher. They are more likely to experience falls or strokes or to have cognitive impairment, urinary incontinence, persistent pain, and polypharmacy (multiple medications for the same condition.) All these issues may affect their ability to manage their diabetes and overall health.
Seniors with diabetes face a higher risk of all types of cognitive decline, from subtle executive dysfunction to dementia. Worsening cognitive function is linked to poor glycemic control, and the longer you live with diabetes, the more likely researchers believe that your cognitive function will decline. Studies are not yet clear on whether a later onset of diabetes may prolong cognitive function. But whenever it declines, self-care becomes a serious problem for diabetics. It affects his or her ability to monitor glucose, adjust insulin doses, and maintain a healthy diet.
About 5.2 million people in the U.S. live with dementia. More than 10% of Americans over 65–and 50% of those over 85–have some form of it. One out of three seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. These figures will likely continue to grow as Baby Boomers...read more