Checking blood sugar levels. Injecting insulin. Carefully watching your diet. If this describes a normal day in your life, or that of a senior you love, you know firsthand the challenges that come with a diagnosis of diabetes. As November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, the Topeka senior care team at Grace Home Care is pleased to share the following important information every diabetic – and every member of the family who cares for one – should know.
What Does It Mean to Have Diabetes?
In a nutshell, our bodies transform a number of the foods we eat into glucose, which provides the energy we need – but only when our bodies make an ample amount of the hormone insulin to break down the glucose for our cells to be able to access it. Diabetics’ bodies are either unable to make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), or aren’t able to utilize the insulin correctly (type 2 diabetes), which results in an excessive amount of glucose in the blood.
Left untreated, diabetes can bring about significant health concerns, such as nerve, eye, and kidney complications, heart disease and stroke, as well as a greater risk for Alzheimer’s or cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Many people with type 2 diabetes have such mild symptoms, or symptoms that come and go, that they do not even realize there is a problem until the disease progresses and symptoms intensify. Signs to watch out for include:
- Increased hunger and/or thirst
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Frequent urination
- Slower healing of cuts and bruises
- Skin infections
It’s important to talk with your physician if these symptoms become evident.
Can Diabetes Be Managed?
Fortunately, once identified and effectively treated, and with adherence to lifestyle changes, diabetes can be controlled and managed. For some, adjustments to diet and exercise are sufficient, while other people require medication and/or insulin injections.
Your doctor will put together a diabetes management plan to follow, which might include:
- When and how to track glucose levels
- Which foods to eat and which to avoid
- Physical activities and exercises
- A medication regimen
Tips to maximize health while managing diabetes include:
- Manage your blood pressure levels and cholesterol, and have them checked on a consistent basis.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Get annual pneumonia and flu vaccines, along with annual eye and kidney exams.
- Check the feet daily to look for blisters, calluses, red patches, sores, or any other skin abnormalities, and see a podiatrist with any concerns.
- Keep skin clean, protected, and moisturized.
- Ask your physician for recommendations on cancer screenings, and for guidance on any other physical, emotional, or mental health concerns being experienced.
Grace Home Care can help people who have diabetes in a variety of ways, including transportation to medical appointments and procedures, meal planning and preparation in accordance with nutritional restrictions, medication reminders, and more. Reach out to the Topeka senior care experts at 785-286-2273 for a free in-home consultation for more information regarding our professional in-home care for diabetes management. For a full list of each of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.