3 must know facts about Diabetes
Understanding Type 2 Diabetes in older Australians
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”
This week is National Diabetes Week and we’re taking a moment to look at one of the “biggest challenges confronting Australia’s health system” . Managing Type 2 Diabetes, particularly if you’re older may seem daunting. Here are three facts you must know:
1. 280 Australians Develop Diabetes Every Day
Diabetes Australia notes around 1.7 million Australians currently have diabetes. And for every person with diabetes there is a caregiver (often a family member providing care at home) who is also dealing with diabetes in a support role.
Being diabetic at any age can be present difficulties. Insulin helps our bodies process glucose into energy. But when you have diabetes, your body has trouble creating or using insulin. As a result high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels can cause symptoms like fatigue, extreme thirst/hunger, weight loss, blurred vision, slow healing sores, and frequent urination.
The video below by the Better Health Channel: Before Type 2 Diabetes explores the symptoms experienced before being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
2. Type 2 Diabetes Is More Prevalent In Older Australians
While Type 1 Diabetes is typically diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood, Type 2 can develop for a variety of reasons. You’re at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight or inactive, stressed or depressed, or if it runs in your family.
Another factor is ageing, with the risk of developing Diabetes increasing over the age of 55. 50% of Australians with Diabetes are over the age of 65. This can be because the symptoms of diabetes are masked by the idea that we’re “getting older”. Cuts that heal slowly; feeling tired and lethargic; or gradually putting on weight are associated with ageing and not attributed to diabetes. If not managed properly, Type 2 Diabetes can progress, increasing the risk of life-threatening complications and vascular diseases. All the more reason to take diabetes in an older loved one seriously.
3. A diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes isn’t a catastrophic one.
“Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.”
The most important fact is that, whilst there is currently no cure for Type 2 Diabetes, it can be managed. Recent research shows it may even be possible to reverse.
You can also proactively prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes without medical intervention. Take simple steps such as eating healthier food and smaller portions with less fat to assist in losing weight if necessary. Drinking more water and cutting out sugary beverages can also be a great place to start.
To manage Diabetes, consider the following ideas:
Meal planning– Because different foods affect glucose levels in different ways, adopt a diabetes-friendly diet. Ask your caregiver or home care nurse to create healthy meal plans, or seek support at home to prepare healthy meals. Look to meals that provide low fat, low sugar options to help you manage your weight.
Learning the Signs – It’s not unheard of to mistake some symptoms (like confusion) for other conditions (like dementia). Keep an eye on cuts, cracks, or ingrown nails as diabetes can cause wounds or sores to take longer to heal, increasing the potential for infection. Be sure to test blood sugar first if you do notice these signs.
Regular monitoring – Track blood glucose levels often and make sure to have a care professional – a nurse or doctor – regularly test your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other vital signs.
Regular Exercise – Regular exercise can increase glucose levels and also help with weight management. A caregiver or nurse can recommend activities and exercises for seniors who need a little assistance. Look for walking groups or exercise options in your local community. Check out some ideas for staying active in our blog on good health and contact your local/state Diabetes organisation for more information such as “the Life program” by Diabetes Victoria and the Victorian State Government.
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.”
– L.R. Knost
Nurse Next Door aims to provide the most comprehensive in home aged care services program for you and your loved ones. If you’re wondering how our nurses and caregivers work with diabetic clients, call 1300 600 247 to arrange a free CARE consult.