Diabetes can be difficult to understand, which makes it a challenging disease to manage properly. It is important to understand the different ways in which diabetes affects the body.
Hypoglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar level drops below 70mg/dl. This can cause a noticeably irritable mood, sweating, shaking, and confusion. Treatment for hypoglycemia must be done quickly before blood sugar drops too low–glucose tablets, juice, and glucose gel are all helpful in bringing blood sugar back up.
Hyperglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar level rises above 200mg/dl. Thirst, frequent urination, and fatigue often indicate high blood sugar. Hyperglycemia can be caused by too many carbohydrates, improper doses of medication, or infection. It should be treated promptly with the proper doses of insulin–extremely high blood sugar levels may result in a diabetic coma.
Although many diabetics will experience these extreme blood sugar levels at some point in their lives, there are many healthy habits one can adopt to keep their blood sugar in the safe zone. Check out these four tips that might help older people manage their diabetes and stay healthier:
1. Stay active and exercise
Activity and exercise are extremely helpful in managing diabetes. Aerobic exercise can help maintain weight and control glucose levels. For most people, it’s best to target for a total of 30 minutes of exercise a day, at least 5 days a week. If you don’t already exercise regularly, you can start out with 5 or 10 minutes a day and work up to more time each week. This exercise can be broken up into 10-minute intervals throughout the day, which may be more feasible for many people. Short walks are a great aerobic option and often very enjoyable. Strengthening exercises such as chair yoga are also a fun option. Staying active not only makes managing diabetes a bit easier, but it also has a positive impact on your overall mood.
2. Foot care
Paying special attention to the condition of your feet can also be helpful in managing diabetes. Feet may often go overlooked, but diabetes can make feet more susceptible to infections from small cuts or cracks in the skin. Doctors recommend trying to examine your feet daily, taking notice of any fungus, cuts, sores, calluses, warts, or ingrown toenails. Caring for your feet is helpful because foot infections can quickly spread to the bone and in extreme cases may require amputation.
3. Eating for health
Healthy eating and a balanced diet is recommended to make managing diabetes easier. Too many starchy foods and lots of sugar can seriously aggravate diabetes. Making healthy changes to diets can seem intimidating at first. A visit to a dietitian can be significantly helpful in developing meal plans that include the proper amount of protein, healthy carbs, and fruits and vegetables. Check with your doctor and see if Medicare will cover your dietitian services so it would not require any out-of-pocket cost. Another helpful reference for healthy eating is the e-book, Healthy Eating.
4. When to get help
It is helpful to know when you should seek the advice of a medical professional. Knowing when to get help can prevent a small issue from developing into something bigger. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor in the following situations:
- inability to keep blood sugar levels in the appropriate range
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- incontinence or constipation
- sore mouth, teeth, or trouble swallowing
- difficulty with tasks such as shopping or cooking
Although diabetes is usually a lifelong condition, you can live a long and healthy life with proper management including exercise, healthy eating, proper foot care, regular doctor visits, and proper medication. It can also be very helpful to have a great support group of friends and family who can help you with any tasks that have become exceptionally difficult.
Disclaimer: Please be aware the above article is merely information – not advice. If users need medical advice, they should consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.