The Lowdown about Diabetes and Older Adults
During the COVID-19 Pandemic older adults with preexisting health conditions are among the highest risk group. One of the most troubling preconditions is diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, about 10.5% of the U.S. population has diabetes, making it the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Equally concerning, 28% of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it.
Here’s a brief biology lesson about diabetes: Diabetes is a condition that results from a lack of insulin in a person’s blood or when the body has a problem using the insulin it produces. The warning signs and symptoms include excessive thirst, hunger, fatigue, frequent urination, weight loss, tingling or numbness in the feet, and blurred vision. Very high blood sugar can cause rapid breathing, dry skin, fruity breath, and nausea.
Here are the leading factors that can put you at risk of developing diabetes:
- Carrying excess fat in the upper body area and around the waist
- Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
- Physical inactivity
- Having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or having given give birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
- If you are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, or Alaska Native
The good news is if you are diagnosed as pre-diabetic or have diabetes you can make lifestyle changes that can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes complications. These include:
- Maintain a healthy body mass index. Every 2.2 pounds of weight loss reduces diabetes risk by 16%.
- Eat a low-fat diet. Fill your plate with fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, lean meats, fish, and chicken.
- Avoid processed, refined carbohydrates, and foods rich in saturated fats and sugar.
- Stay hydrated. Skip the sugar-sweetened beverages and drink water throughout the day.
- Daily exercise. Get off the couch and get involved in regular physical activity that will help your body use insulin more efficiently.
- Reduce stress. Learn ways to chill, even during a pandemic. The stress response triggers the release of hormones that increase blood sugar levels.
- Get a full night’s rest. Sleep deprivation can cause obesity, which leads to an increased risk of diabetes.
- See your doctor regularly and never missed prescribed medication.
To find out more about diabetes tests, fast facts, prevention and treatment go to the Centers for Disease Control website: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/index.html