Assessing Senior Diabetes Risk

As a senior adult, diabetes could be considered one of the many curses of aging. Right along with the dreaded heart disease, vision changes, mobility and joint problems, and high blood pressure, aging can truly take a toll on the body. If you or your senior loved one has not yet developed diabetes, there is a chance to avoid developing this slow-decline disease state.

Assessing Senior Diabetes Risk

For adults aged 45-64 years old, the number of people who had diabetes as of 2014 reached 16% with diagnosed diabetes. That number does not include the approximately 8.1 million Americans with undiagnosed diabetes.

When assessing senior diabetes risk, we can look at the current numbers. For adults who are 65 years or older, nearly 26% have diagnosed diabetes, or about 11.8 million seniors. This means a quarter of our senior population has already developed diabetes, with a few million new cases of diabetes type 2 occurring every year.

Diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, and contributes to other causes of death, such as stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart attack, in a major way—mostly by damage to small blood vessels and nerves. Diabetes also increases the risk of limb amputations, vision loss, and nerve damage when it is not controlled.

Men are more likely to develop diabetes, and this might be due to more frequent physician visits by women. Seeing your physician regularly can help reduce senior diabetes risk, because there are certain clues that indicate whether you are starting to show signs of risk. Your physician can determine if you have prediabetes, which involves as slightly higher-than-normal blood sugar, and high insulin levels, among other indicators.  Prediabetes increases your chances of developing diabetes to almost certainty, and is one of the major factors surrounding senior diabetes risk.

In 2012, the number of Americans over age 20 who had prediabetes reached 86 million, which has increased from 79 million in 2010. Prediabetes is absolutely reversible, and so it’s important for a senior at risk of diabetes to pay attention to this sort of red flag, and visit your physician regularly to help reduce diabetes risk.

The best way to reverse prediabetes is to lose weight, to ensure that you are not eating too many carbohydrates and sugars on a daily basis, and to try being active every day.

There are risk factors that make you more likely to develop diabetes, and the most important risk is being overweight or obese.  Being at a body weight that is too high for your frame or gender will increase your risk of developing diabetes type 2 dramatically. It also means you are more likely to develop the ‘silent killer’ – also known as high blood pressure, which can cause your health to become very unstable if left untreated.

Diabetes and Weight Loss

The Diabetes Prevention Program showed that people who exercised regularly and ate in moderation were able to reduce their body weight by 5-7%. For a 200 lb man, this would mean losing just 10-12 pounds, which can delay and even possibly prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Losing weight and exercising are the two best things you can do for your health – because it can reduce not only senior diabetes risk, but also your risk of developing heart disease, having a stroke, high blood pressure, and cancer. Losing weight by reducing calories each day could also extend your lifespan.

A healthy diet that contains adequate amounts of protein to maintain muscle mass can help maintain senior metabolism. Another important component of reducing senior diabetes risk is to consume a diet that is moderate in carbohydrates and sugars, and rich in fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, and nuts, seeds, and legumes. Being active almost every day is a great way to ensure that you maintain quality of life and to help reduce senior diabetes risk.

For seniors who already have diabetes, you can reduce the risk of complications of senior diabetes type 2 by making sure you keep your blood sugars in a normal range, controlling your hemoglobin A1C levels, and ensuring that you don’t eat too many carbohydrates and sugars each day.  Being active, even just walking for 20-30 minutes each day, can dramatically reduce the likelihood of limb amputations, nerve damage, and vision loss that is associated with uncontrolled senior diabetes. Making sure you take your medications every day, maintain a normal body weight, get enough quality sleep, and staying active will help dramatically reduce your risk of complications with senior diabetes.

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