Managing diabetes for better quality of life
Nearly 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every year. And while most people recognize the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes that come with the diagnosis, you may not realize that diabetes can also bring long-term complications including stroke, heart attack, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, hearing impairment, skin infections, and more.
That’s why it’s so important to actively manage diabetes. For some, it can be as simple as exercising and consuming a healthy diet to sustain healthy blood glucose levels. For others, it may be a bit more complex. Regardless, diabetes management should start with a plan created by a healthcare provider, which includes a regimen of appropriate diet and exercise coupled with any necessary medications and routine doctor visits.
Elderly patients should visit their doctors annually for a medical evaluation of how well they are controlling the disease. In between physician visits, these tips can help effectively manage Type 2 diabetes:
- Schedule annual vision exams
Diabetic retinopathy, which results from high blood glucose levels for prolonged periods, can damage the blood vessels in the retina and can lead to blindness. Because it’s likely to reoccur, a regular eye exam is critical to maintaining good eye health.
- Check A1C glucose levels regularly
Having glucose levels checked twice a year helps to prevent blood vessel conditions that can lead to diabetic retinopathy and blindness.
- Check your feet every day
Nerve damage (or neuropathy) to the feet is a common consequence of Type 2 diabetes. Seniors who develop neuropathy experience numbness, tingling, and sometimes burning sensations in their feet. Possible numbness can make it easy to overlook things like puncture wounds, blisters, or simple hangnails which could cause infections. Untreated, those wounds can result in gangrene, tissue death or may ultimately require amputation.
- Exercise daily
Remaining physically fit and active helps to keep blood sugar levels lower. Exercise is also instrumental for weight loss and maintenance, helps to reduce A1C, lower blood pressure and reduce insulin resistance. As little as 30 minutes of light activity per day, such as standing or walking, can generate benefits.
- Get tested annually
Older Type 2 diabetes sufferers should undergo regular checkups to manage their condition, including an annual blood test to pinpoint any issues with cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as kidney problems.
- Eat nutritiously
Consuming regular, balanced meals that help maintain a healthy weight is recommended for patients with Type 2 diabetes. Try to eliminate fast foods, as well as processed, refined and prepared foods where possible. When choosing carbohydrates, pick ones that promote steady blood sugar levels.
- Take medicines as prescribed
Your physician may prescribe medications to help regulate blood glucose. Insulin therapy is sometimes needed to sustain good insulin levels, delivered through routine injections or a pump.
If there are other complicating medical issues that need more around-the-clock attention, a Skilled Nursing Center can give you or your loved one the peace of mind and the assistance you may need to get back on your feet again. A designated team of healthcare professionals will work together to assemble a comprehensive treatment plan, with input from a Registered Dietitian to assist with meal planning and education. And a physician is on staff who can evaluate and prescribe medications to counter symptoms of the disease.
Helping an elderly family member or loved one navigate the complexities of diabetes management may seem overwhelming at times. Having professional medical assistance, whether through home healthcare or skilled nursing care, may significantly improve outcomes and give you peace of mind as well. Services available through American Health Corporation can help manage the unique healthcare issues that can come with diabetes.
For more information or to schedule a facility tour, contact one of our three locations in Alabama nearest you:
Oak Trace (Bessemer, AL) 205-428-9383
Colonial Haven (Greensboro, AL) 334-624-3054
Perry County Nursing Home (Marion, AL) 334-683-9696