Diabetes in the Elderly from Prevention to Treatment

Diabetes is a long-term disease that affects how your body handles blood sugar (glucose). It may happen at any age, although it is more frequent in older adults. Diabetes becomes more common as people age owing to decreased physical activity, dietary changes, and decreasing insulin sensitivity, which is why you should learn about treating diabetes in the elderly.

When it comes to managing and treating diabetes in the elderly, various things must be taken into account, including age, overall health, and any other medical disorders they may have. Treatment goals may vary depending on the individual’s circumstances, but the basic aims are maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing diabetic complications.

This essay will look at the many diabetes treatment choices for the elderly, including lifestyle modifications and what caregivers can do to help seniors with diabetes. We will also cover helpful tips to manage and prevent diabetes.

Why are Older People more at Risk of Diabetes?

Age, becoming overweight, and a family history of diabetes are all significant risk factors for diabetes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes rises with age. One explanation for this is that insulin resistance increases with age. Reduced muscle mass (sarcopenia), obesity, and decreased physical activity in elderly persons are all factors that lead to insulin resistance.

Type 2 diabetes is more likely if you:

  • Are above the age of 45 and have high blood pressure;
  • Are overweight and above the age of 45;
  • Have a diabetic family history;
  • Are over the age of 55;
  • Having high blood sugar levels during pregnancy or delivering a baby weighing more than 4.5 kg;
  • Suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Being fat or overweight;
  • Have pre-diabetes, which means your blood glucose levels are slightly elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.


Consequences of Diabetes in Older Adults

Diabetes must be managed since it can lead to major health problems such as heart and kidney problems, stroke, eye difficulties, and nerve damage, leading to amputation. Moreover, those with type 2 diabetes may be more susceptible to cancer and Alzheimer’s.


Why is Diabetes More Common in the Elderly?

Because of the combined consequences of growing insulin resistance and reduced pancreatic islet function with aging, older adults are at significant risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Tests for diabetes

Doctors use many blood tests to help identify diabetes:

  • A random plasma glucose test can be administered at any time of day.
  • The A1C test can be performed at any time of day. It displays your average glucose level over the last three months.
  • A fasting plasma glucose test can be performed after fasting for at least eight hours.
  • An oral glucose tolerance test can be administered after fasting overnight and again two hours later after consuming a sugary drink.

Before establishing a diagnosis of diabetes, your doctor may ask you to be tested again.


What are the Symptoms of Diabetes in the Elderly?

Before learning about preventing and treating diabetes in the elderly, you must know the symptoms. Diabetes symptoms and indicators vary depending on the individual. Some people have such subtle symptoms that they are unaware of, but others have obvious signals that something is wrong.

These are some diabetic warning symptoms to be aware of:

Excessive Thirst and Urination 

Diabetes causes an increase in the amount of glucose in your blood, which forces your kidneys to work overtime. As a result, excess glucose is discharged into your urine as the kidneys struggle to filter out this glucose, pulling fluids from your body with it. This might make you feel thirstier than usual (polydipsia), causing you to consume more liquid and pee more frequently (polyuria).

Extreme Tiredness

Have you recently felt more tired than usual? Excessive sleepiness is another sign of diabetes in older persons. This is because high blood sugar levels make it more difficult for your body to convert glucose into energy. Diabetes-related dehydration might also be a cause of weariness.

Wounds that Heal at a Slower Rate

Some diabetic older adults discover that scrapes and bruises heal slower than usual. Another red flag is the appearance of sores and skin infections that do not heal rapidly. This might be related to impaired circulation produced by elevated blood glucose levels, which impedes the body’s natural healing process. Diabetes can lead to more frequent urinary infections and vaginal yeast infections in women.

Fainting and Dizziness

Diabetic elderly folks may endure low blood sugar spells known as hypoglycemia. A blood sugar level lower than 70 mg is considered hypoglycemia. Low blood glucose levels can induce fatigue, dizziness, shakiness, disorientation, and even fainting. Diabetes patients can quickly raise their blood sugar levels by drinking fruit juice or taking glucose pills.


To operate effectively, our brain requires a continuous glucose supply, which is not always appropriate with the blood sugar dips and rises associated with diabetes. As a result, it’s no surprise that headaches are a typical symptom of diabetes in the elderly.

Tingling in the Hands and Feet

Around 50% of people with diabetes experience nerve damage, particularly those who have had diabetes for a long time. This diabetic symptom is known as peripheral neuropathy, and it can trigger discomfort, tingling, weakness, or even numbness in the hands and feet.

Hazy Vision

High blood glucose levels can cause fluid to drain from the eyes’ lenses, making it harder to concentrate. When left untreated, this diabetic symptom might result in the formation of new blood vessels behind your retina, causing existing vessels to be damaged. It can eventually result in partial or total vision loss.

Gum Issues

Red, puffy, sore gums are another sign of diabetes in older adults. Diabetes can weaken your immune system, increasing the probability of infection in your gums and the bones that support your teeth. Apart from inflamed gums, other warning signs to check for include loose teeth, ulcers, and pus-filled pockets in your gums.

Appetite Stimulation

Another indication of diabetes in elders is excessive hunger, a condition known as polyphagia. Polyphagia occurs when diabetes inhibits dietary glucose from reaching your cells, causing you to feel hungry even after a large meal. This state can set off a frustrating cycle in which you eat more, leading to increased blood sugar and raising your sugar cravings even more.

Dry Mouth

A dry mouth, often known as xerostomia, is another indication of diabetes in older persons. This unpleasant sensation comes when your mouth is unable to create enough saliva. Dry, cracked lips and a rough-feeling tongue usually follow it. This diabetic sign may come and go as your blood sugar levels fluctuate.


Preventing Diabetes in the Elderly Guidelines

Before learning about treating diabetes in the elderly, you must learn about preventing it. If any of the following apply to you or a loved one, you may be at higher risk of acquiring Type 2 Diabetes:

Being Overweight

Excess fat raises the body’s resistance to insulin, which is required for blood sugar metabolism.

Depression or Stress

Stress and mental health concerns have been shown to increase blood sugar levels and blood pressure while decreasing insulin production.

Diabetes Runs in Your Family

Based on trends in your family’s medical history, you may be predisposed to getting diabetes.


Helpful Tips to Prevent Diabetes in the Elderly

Before learning about treating diabetes in the elderly, let’s look at different tips to prevent it.

Get Rid of the Additional Pounds

Obesity puts you at risk of developing mild to severe health problems. However, you can reduce your risk of diabetes by decreasing excess weight. While difficult, it is doable. You can begin a weight-loss strategy suited to your body weight by working with a specialist or a doctor.

Adopt a More Active and Physical Lifestyle

Regular workouts and physical activity can help you lose weight, lower blood glucose levels, and regulate blood sugar. Yoga and aerobics are great strategies to lose weight and keep healthy. Even a few minutes of stretching and standing minimize sedentary behavior, which lets you take a break from sitting too long.

Consume Nutritious Vegetables

Whole grains, veggies, fiber, and fruits are healthy plants that give minerals, vitamins, and carbs. Fiber-rich foods promote healthy weight reduction, lessen the risk of diabetes, and lower blood sugar levels. Integrating plants into your diet is an important step toward a healthy lifestyle.

Eat Good Fats

Fatty foods are heavy in calories, which can harm your health if taken in excess. Instead, use healthy fats. Almonds, canola, sunflower, avocado, cottonseed, salmon, peanuts, tuna, pumpkin, safflower, olives, and sardines are all high in healthy fats. Also, meat contains saturated fat, which should be ingested in moderation.

Portion Management

It’s better to eat well-balanced meals in reasonable portions. To consume the proper portion, split your food into three portions. For example, you may divide your food into one-quarter whole grains, one-quarter protein, and half a plate of vegetables and fruits.

Reduce Your Use of Alcohol and Smoking

While you’ll want to keep your sugar levels stable, it’s advised to limit your alcohol consumption owing to the high sugar content of most alcoholic beverages. In addition, smoking puts you at risk for health problems including strokes and heart attacks.


Treating Diabetes in the Elderly

Treating diabetes in the elderly might vary depending on several circumstances, including the degree of diabetes, the patient’s overall health, and any other medical disorders.

It is critical to highlight that treating diabetes in the elderly should be tailored to the patient’s personal demands and health state. A healthcare practitioner can assist in developing a treatment plan that is suited to the patient’s specific needs.

In general, diabetes therapy in the elderly will consist of controlling blood sugar levels through lifestyle adjustments and drugs. The following are some common therapies that may be suggested:

Exercise and Diet

A good diet and regular exercise can assist older diabetic individuals in regulating their blood sugar levels. In addition, a licensed dietician can assist in developing a meal plan that is tailored to the patient’s specific needs and preferences.


Diabetes treatments may comprise insulin, oral drugs, or a mix. The patient’s specific needs and health state will determine the drug utilized.

Monitoring of Blood Sugar Levels

Blood sugar monitoring regularly can assist notice swings in blood sugar levels and adapt medication accordingly.

Management of Other Medical Disorders 

Diabetes increases the chance of developing additional medical disorders, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. However, complications can be reduced by managing these disorders with drugs and lifestyle modifications.

Regular Medical Examinations

Frequent check-ups with a healthcare professional may assist in monitoring the patient’s diabetes and overall health, as well as making any required treatment modifications.

Examine Your Feet

Diabetes is usually associated with loss of feeling in the feet. As a result, older folks should be alert to any signs. You should inspect your feet for discoloration, spots, infections, and other abnormalities and report your findings to your doctor.


How Can Your Caregivers Help to Prevent Your Diabetes?

Glycemic control (regulating your blood glucose levels) is the most critical part of preventing and managing diabetes and preventing diabetic complications. These are some methods for you and your carers to control your blood sugar levels:

Lifestyle and Management

  • Choose low-calorie food that is healthful.
  • Work out regularly.
  • Be able to identify the signs of high and low blood glucose levels.
  • Control your stress levels.
  • Understand your medications, particularly those for conditions other than diabetes. You can consult with a pharmacist to better understand your drugs.

Medical Care and Treatment

  • Medication, both insulin, and non-insulin.
  • Keep an eye on your blood glucose levels.
  • Find your Hemoglobin A1c target level. Our blood glucose goals shift as we age. Consult your primary care provider to discover the best aim for you.


Managing and Treating Diabetes in the Elderly in Las Vegas

Health & Care Professional Network caregivers are glad to help you and your elderly loved one with diabetes prevention and control. Health & Care Professional Network assisted living food plans include all required nutrients, and we offer several chances for exercise and physical leisure.

Call us today at (702) 871-9917 or complete our online appointment form to learn how you can assist your loved one in preventing, managing, and treating diabetes.

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