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In the U.S., about one in four people over 60 has diabetes. It's a disease with no cure. Fortunately, seniors living with diabetes can successfully manage the disease. We'll look at the disease itself and show you smart ways to live with the diabetes.
Diabetes is a group of diseases attributed to high blood glucose levels resulting from defects in the body's production and use of insulin.
The pancreas-produced hormone insulin controls the body's glucose. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. People with type 1 are given insulin via injection or a pump. About 5% of all adult diabetics have type 1.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or does not use effectively what it does produce. Type 2 typically develops in people over 40. It accounts for about 95% of all adult diabetes cases.
Doctors aren't sure of the causes of diabetes. At least they can't pinpoint anything specific. However, genetics, aging and lifestyle all play a part. Having a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight seem to increase the risk, especially in older adults. Diabetes also seems to run in families. All of these factors affect people in different ways.
If not properly managed, diabetes can lead to some serious health problems.
Hearing loss is another complication with diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, “hearing loss is about twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease.” Researchers believe diabetes may damage the nerves and blood vessels of the inner ear.
Having diabetes doesn't have to limit your exercise. In fact, exercising—even just walking 20 to 30 minutes three times a week—can significantly improve your body's use of glucose. Exercise will also improve your blood pressure and cholesterol, relieve stress, burn calories, increase your strength and flexibility, and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. As a diabetic, there are a few things you should do when exercising.
For some people, controlling diabetes with diet and exercise is not enough. Oral medications are sometimes needed to increase the amount of insulin or to assist the body's ability to respond to insulin. Examples of these drugs include Sulfonylureas, Biguanides, Thiazolidinediones, and Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors. There can be side effects (e.g. dropping blood glucose too much) from some of these drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist can educate you on each ones characteristic. As you age, your body makes less insulin so no matter what drugs you take, how go your diet is or no matter how much you exercise, you still may need insulin injections. Here are the most common insulin injections:
The American Association of Diabetes provided these tips for adults over 55-years-old.
The American Association of Diabetes recommends these quick tips for those seniors living with diabetes day-to-day:
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