23 Nov Diabetes 101 and How to Cope
What is diabetes?
According to Diabetes Canada, 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. Chances are, diabetes affects you or someone you know, so it is important that we all understand what exactly diabetes is, and we and those around us can thrive with this disease.
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels which can be damaging to organs, blood vessels and nerves.
Type 1 vs. Type 2
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas leading to little or no insulin being released in the body. As a result, sugar builds up with nowhere to go. This type affects 5-10% of people with diabetes and it generally develops in childhood or adolescence. Treatment of insulin is always required when dealing with Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 occurs when the body can not properly use the insulin that is released or the body does not make enough of it. About 90% of people with diabetes have this type, and it more often develops in adults. Depending on the severity, Type 2 can be managed through lifestyle changes but it may require medications as well.
If you have a family member with type 1 diabetes, this slightly increases the risk for you. However, all risk factors are not currently known. If you think you might be at risk for developing diabetes you can take an online test here.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of diabetes, you can view the full list here:
- Unusual thirst
- Weight change (gain or loss)
- Blurred vision
- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Diabetes in Seniors
As we age, age related health problems are inevitable but over time, proper management can become part of our regular routine. Learning about diabetes can be overwhelming so it is important to seek support from family if you need help with medications, testing and tracking your blood glucose levels and ensuring you are eating well. Here are some suggestions from Diabetes Canada to help you take ownership over your health when dealing with diabetes:
- See your health care provider on a regular basis. This will help keep diabetes management top of mind, while ensuring you are up to date on important tests.
- Ask about what other sort of care professionals can be part of your diabetes management team. This could include pharmacists, nurse educators, dieticians and social workers.
- Ensure you are eating well. Following a healthy meal plan is crucial component of good diabetes management, but if you have impaired physical or cognitive abilities it may help to have healthy pre-arranged meals and snacks readily available.
- Regular physical activity of the aerobic and resistance variety have been shown to improve blood glucose levels. This could include a brisk walk, swimming or a low impact fitness class.
- Check your feet, and have your caregivers remind you. Proper foot care includes a daily inspection for cracks, cuts and nail health and is very important for people with diabetes. Get assistance if you need it.
Did you know that Peachtree Senior Living specializes in the care of those dealing with diabetes? Contact us to learn how our home creates the perfect environment for effective management of diabetes.
Diabetes Canada: https://www.diabetes.ca/