According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 25% of Americans over the age of 60 have diabetes, and the aging of the U.S. population is one of the primary drivers of the diabetes epidemic. As we age, our risk for diabetes increases. The exact causes of diabetes are not entirely clear. However, it is commonly accepted that genetics and lifestyle factors, such as weight, play an important role in the development of diabetes.
What exactly is diabetes? Diabetes is a group of diseases, but type 2 diabetes is the most common. In short, when we eat food, it is broken down into a sugar called glucose, which gives us energy. To use glucose as energy, our bodies need insulin. When one has diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin or use it efficiently enough. When individuals with diabetes or prediabetes successfully manage their blood sugar and insulin through monitoring, diet, exercise, and/or medications, they can lead fulfilling and active lives.
However, according to the Mayo Clinic, the longer one has diabetes – and the less controlled one’s blood sugar – the higher the risk of complications. Possible complications include: heart disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage, eye damage, foot damage, skin conditions, hearing impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the signs and symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, fatigue, irritability, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet.
You can help prevent and manage diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. If you are interested in your diabetes risk, the American Diabetes Association encourages you to ask your doctor about the ABCs of diabetes:
- Hemoglobin A1C can be tested to tell you your average blood glucose level for the past 2 to 3 months
- Blood Pressure control is very important for decreasing the strain on your heart, blood vessels and kidneys
- Cholesterol control and reduced body fat can help reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke
For those who have diabetes or prediabetes and those who care for individuals with diabetes, there will be a 6-week Diabetes Management Workshop starting this Friday (2/5/2016) at 10AM in the Agelink Great Hall. The course is designed to support and educate individuals with diabetes, so they can continue to live life to its fullest! This workshop is sponsored by Medicare and will address exercise, nutrition, diabetic medications, caring for eyes, teeth, and feet, and much more. The workshop is also open to the public, so if you have children or friends living with diabetes, they are welcome to register. Call Jessica at x6110 to reserve a spot today. *