How to successfully manage diabetes as you age
Although diabetes can’t be cured, you can reduce the risk of serious complications by managing the disease. That means keeping blood sugar (glucose) levels — as well as blood pressure and cholesterol levels — within a healthy range.
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can be a problem for anyone with diabetes, but it is especially a risk for those who use insulin. It can lead to heart attack, seizures, stroke, coma and even death, so it’s important to take it seriously.
“The risk of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, in older adults is also concerning due to increased risks of cognitive impairment," said Molly Campbell, Community Touchpoint HATS nurse practitioner. "We know that more frequent episodes of low blood sugar can lead to memory loss, and it is important for individuals to contact their diabetes provider to discuss medication management when this occurs.”
Managing diabetes also requires a careful balance of healthy eating, physical activity and weight management.
Making healthy food choices is crucial to keeping your glucose level under control. You don’t need to buy or prepare special foods; just be sure to eat foods that are low in fat, salt and sugar, and high in fiber, such as beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
These foods help you reach and stay at a healthy weight, keep your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol in a desirable range, and prevent or delay heart and blood vessel disease.
Regular physical activity is also very important. You should talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercise would be best for you. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and gradually add more time and/or intensity. Regular exercise will help you keep your weight under control and body agile.