Roughly 34.2 million people in the United States are currently living with diabetes. Of that number, 7.3 million are undiagnosed. Knowing whether you or a loved one might be at risk and what could potentially cause diabetes is the first step to both preventing the disease and making sure you get the right treatment for your needs.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two main types of the disease:

  • Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin. 
  • Type 2 diabetes, which is much more common, is when the body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.

What are the symptoms?

Some early symptoms to look out for in yourself or in a loved one are:

  • Feeling thirsty more often and more severely than usual
  • Peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • Cuts or wounds healing slower than usual
  • Blurred vision

If any of these symptoms exhibit themselves for longer periods of time, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice and diabetes support where appropriate.

Who is most at risk?

There are two types of risk factors when it comes to Type 2 diabetes: non-modifiable ones and modifiable ones. Non-modifiable ones cannot be changed and include:

  • Family history/genetics
  • Race or ethnic background
  • Age
  • Pregnancy

All of these factors can raise the likelihood of a person getting diabetes, but unfortunately cannot be avoided.

However, there are some that can be avoided with the right practices. These include:

  • Being overweight
  • Not doing enough physical activity
  • Untreated high blood pressure
  • Low cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet, lacking nutrition
  • Heavy use of alcohol
  • Stress and poor emotional well-being
  • Lack of sleep

Encouraging healthier habits in all of these areas can reduce the chance of diabetes. This is especially important for those who might already be vulnerable to some of the non-modifiable risk factors.

What are some tips for preventing diabetes?

Here are some tips for preventing diabetes in seniors or others who are most at risk for developing diabetes:

  • Speak regularly with healthcare providers about concerns in diet and exercise as well as making sure medications are being administered.
  • Make sure your loved ones get regular exercise. There are plenty of exercises designed for diabetic seniors that can also be of use for prevention.
  • Know the risks of diabetes in the elderly. They are more likely to experience problems with hearing, vision, bones and joints, and memory.
  • Keep food and exercise journals. Make sure your loved one is eating properly and exercising regularly but also remember to document it. It is easier to keep track of habits and can also help doctors, home nurses, and caregivers to make sure they are staying healthy.

Some final tips…

  • If your loved one has diabetes, be sure they are screened regularly for depression, as it is common with seniors that have diabetes.
  • Speak to doctors regularly and make sure you attend appointments with your loved one so you can address any concerns you have.

For any more questions about living with Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes for seniors, the disabled, or children, be sure to visit our website or give us a call at (651) 330-2550 to learn about the services we provide at Best Care.