The American Diabetes Association statistics show that more than 25% of US seniors have diabetes, and a whopping 50% have prediabetes. In seniors, diabetes is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, higher mortality rates from all causes, and reduced ability to live independently. However, despite the risks dieabetes poses, it is possible to live a healthy life with the disease.
Follow these 5 tips for healthy living with diabetes:
- Team Up against Diabetes
Because diabetes affects a variety of organ systems, it is important to use a medical team approach to manage the disease. A diabetic medical team includes a primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, a dentist, an ophthalmologist, and a podiatrist. Depending on the specific health concerns of the diabetic, a cardiologist or other specialist may also be required.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends diabetics see their healthcare providers at least twice a year.
- Keep Your Blood Sugar Level in Range
It’s simple: the higher your blood sugar level, the greater your risk of complications from diabetes. It is crucial for your health to keep your blood glucose level within the range specified by your healthcare provider. This is especially important for microvascular health, the condition of small blood vessels such as those in the kidneys and the eyes; and for prevention of neuropathy, a common form of diabetes-related nerve damage that most commonly affects the eyes and feet.
- Watch Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure in diabetics is associated with increased risk of kidney damage. For best health, keep your blood pressure under 130/80. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so it is important to have your blood pressure measured regularly.
Reducing salt intake and, if required, losing weight can help you control your blood pressure. Your doctor can also prescribe blood pressure medication, if necessary.
- Manage Your Cholesterol
Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease; keeping cholesterol levels under control is important. HDL, healthy cholesterol, should be over 40 mg/dL. LDL, unhealthy cholesterol, should be under 100 mg/dL. Triglycerides should be under 150 mg/dL.
Diabetics should have regular fasting blood tests to confirm their cholesterol levels are within range.
- Take Care of Your Feet
Diabetes impairs circulation and healing, which means that even minor foot problems can turn into medical emergencies.
A podiatrist is an extremely important member of a diabetes healthcare team. In addition, diabetics should wash and check their feet every day, always wear socks and shoes, and have their feet checked at every medical exam.
Diabetes is a serious disease, with the potential for major, life-altering complications, but with proper care a diabetic can live a happy, healthy life.
At the Regency Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers, we offer the very best of care in a patient-centered environment. This means following our residents’ health carefully, listening to them, and respecting their capabilities, while helping them to achieve maximum functionality and independence — and always maintaining the highest professional and quality standards in our staff and our facilities. Our 25 years of excellent care have led to us being awarded a Best Nursing Homes award by US News & World Today, a 5-Star rating by USA Today, and an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, among many other awards.
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