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National Diabetes Month: Diabetes & Aging

November is National Diabetes Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes and its impact on people’s lives. For seniors, this awareness is particularly crucial as age and diabetes often go hand in hand.

At Anthology Senior Living, our mission is to empower those under our care to lead fulfilling, vibrant lives. This commitment extends to individuals living with diabetes and those who may be at risk of developing this condition. We are dedicated to providing the highest standard of care and support, ensuring that our residents not only thrive during their retirement but also effectively manage and mitigate the challenges associated with diabetes.

Let’s explore the relationship between diabetes and aging, the unique challenges seniors face and essential strategies to manage and prevent this chronic condition.

Fast Facts About Diabetes
Total: 37.3 million Americans have diabetes (11.3% of the U.S. population).
Undiagnosed: 8.5 million Americans are living with the condition without an official diagnosis (23% of adults are undiagnosed).
65 years or older: 26.4 million Americans aged 65 years or older have prediabetes.

Understanding Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects how our body processes glucose, a form of sugar that fuels our cells. Diabetes arises when a person’s blood sugar level becomes too high. Glucose is our body’s primary source of energy, derived from the food we eat. To put this energy to use, insulin is like a key that opens the cells, allowing glucose to enter and be used for various bodily functions.
However, if the body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use it effectively, the glucose remains in the bloodstream, leading to health issues, including diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.

Type 1 diabetes:
•    Typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence
•    The immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas
•    Requires lifelong insulin therapy

Type 2 diabetes:
•    Usually diagnosed in adulthood
•    The body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin
•    Lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity play a significant role in its development

How Is Diabetes Related to Aging?

Who is at risk for developing diabetes? As people age, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases. Age-related changes in metabolism, muscle mass and hormonal balance can make it more challenging for the body to regulate blood sugar levels. While there are many factors that play a role in the diagnoses of the disease, type 2 diabetes is most often found in people who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes or lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Complications of Diabetes

What are common complications of diabetes in seniors? Seniors living with diabetes need to be vigilant about the potential complications that can arise as a result of this chronic condition. If not properly treated, type 2 diabetes can result in a variety of complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, nerve damage and vision loss. Managing diabetes effectively is crucial to prevent these issues.

Anthology of Highland Park supports their residents who have diabetes by encouraging healthy diet choices, helping check and maintain blood glucose, assisting with the setup of follow-up appointments with their primary care physician and providing education. The care teams at all Anthology communities are highly trained to recognize, educate and help with the prevention of diabetes.

Managing and Reducing the Risk of Diabetes in Seniors

Living with diabetes comes with a unique set of challenges, but understanding the different treatment approaches can make a world of difference. The primary goal of diabetes treatment is to effectively regulate blood sugar levels in the body. For type 1 diabetes, management typically involves insulin therapy and dietary adjustments. Type 2 diabetes is commonly addressed through a combination of non-insulin medications, insulin treatment, exercise, weight management and dietary modifications.

While it’s not always possible to prevent diabetes, there are proactive measures you can take to lower your risk or slow its progression if you’re in the prediabetes or borderline stages.

Healthy Eating. A balanced diet with a focus on whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of vegetables can help regulate blood sugar levels. Consult with a registered dietitian for personalized meal plans.

The culinary teams at Anthology communities, like Anthology of Boynton Beach and Anthology of Olathe, caters to each resident’s unique nutritional needs, including those with diabetes. Each dining team member ensures that meals are thoughtfully prepared to support blood sugar control, incorporating a balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins and a variety of healthy fruits and vegetables. Each community promotes a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and exercise tailored to the needs of each resident, helping maintain optimal insulin sensitivity and weight management.

Regular Exercise. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of heart disease. Engage in activities like walking, swimming or yoga. Always consult a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.

Regular Medical Checkups. Regular visits to healthcare professionals are essential for diabetes management and prevention. Addressing any emerging health concerns promptly can prevent complications, and early detection is key to prevent the progression of the disease.

Weight Management. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to diabetes prevention and management. Consult with a healthcare professional to set realistic weight loss goals.

Stress Management. Chronic stress can affect blood sugar levels. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or yoga into your daily routine.

At Anthology of Blue Ash, the nursing staff actively monitors the health of our residents, ensuring that any signs of diabetes or related issues are promptly addressed. We place a strong emphasis on diabetes risk reduction and prevention by implementing evidence-based strategies. Our goal is to create a caring environment for our residents. We focus on their overall well-being and provide comprehensive health and diabetes management.

Supporting Health and Wellness

Diabetes and aging are interconnected, and seniors must be proactive in managing and preventing this chronic condition. With a balanced approach that includes healthy eating, regular exercise and medical care, seniors can enjoy a high quality of life despite a diabetes diagnosis. This month, let’s raise awareness, share knowledge and support older adults in their journey to better health and well-being.

Interested in finding an Anthology Senior Living community near you? Visit our community finder to learn about all our locations!