Awareness and Education for American Diabetes Month
November has been designated as American Diabetes Month, an opportunity for those with the disease to “show the world what life with diabetes is really like,” according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website.
Fellowship Square shares some important information for seniors in regards to diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1, in which the body does not produce insulin, generally begins in children and young adults who then have it for life, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA). In Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, the body doesn’t make insulin or doesn’t utilize well. It occurs most often in middle aged and older adults. Risk increases for those that are overweight, inactive, or have a family history of the disease. The good news is Type 2 diabetes can actually be prevented or at the least delayed. However, it takes a commitment to life changes — usually starting with modifications to one’s diet and increasing level of physical activity.
According to the ADA, proper eating is one of the keys for those with diabetes to manage the disease or to prevent it. Individuals can work with their physicians or a registered dietician for a guided or customized plan that incorporates the “right” foods. But the Association reports that there is not one specified way of eating that will serve as a “magic” diet to reduce or prevent diabetes as each body is different. However, a good start is to focus on managing blood sugar by filling one’s plate with fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and plant-based sources of protein while reducing intake of added sugars and processed foods. The Diabetes Plate Method suggests each meal include a balance of non-starchy vegetables (filling half the plate), proteins (filling a quarter of the plate), and carbohydrates (filling the final quarter of the plate). The meal should be complemented by a full glass of water or a zero-calorie drink (tea, for example).
Another key component to managing or preventing the disease is regular exercise. This is because “when you’re active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it works more effectively,” according to the ADA. Those that have not been physically active in some time or that have other health concerns should check with their physician before starting a new exercise routine. However, the ADA suggests that light walking is a good place to start and that setting a goal for one’s self can help keep on track and accountable.
Since those that are overweight are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, it’s important to note that even small changes can make a big difference. An article on the ADA website states: “every change, no matter how small, makes a difference in your ability to manage diabetes. Even losing 10-15 pounds can have a significant impact on your health.”
It is estimated that 33 percent of seniors aged 65 and older have diabetes, and they are more at risk of developing diabetes-related complications including heart disease than younger people living with diabetes. According to the National Institution on Aging, older adults with diabetes are also at higher risk of depression or cognitive impairment than those without the disease. These added complications can make it more challenging for seniors to manage their own diabetes self-care. That said, seniors should take extra care in the prevention and management of diabetes. Fellowship Square encourages seniors to check with the doctors or get screened if they think they may be at risk or experiencing diabetes or prediabetes.