While managing diabetes can be challenging for anyone, it presents unique hurdles for the older adult. If a diabetic patient lives in assisted living, then the condition will be managed and healthy living promoted by medical service staff. But for the adult who is aging in place (more info here), then it’s often up to the individual themselves, along with a caregiver or family member to support diabetes management.
What can an adult who lives at home do to best manage their diabetes?
All adults, living situations and health related issues are different, so managing diabetes must be a flexible approach for each person. Some people are very high functioning, can perform their own self-care and continue to manage their diabetes on their own. These patients may only need the support of a family member or intermittent caregiver to assist.
Others who have more complex medical issue or co-morbidities may need regular assistance from a regular of daily caregiver to manage their overall health, including their diabetes. Often changing health can greatly affect glucose management, so a patient who has other health issues may also see their diabetes management needs change often.
3 Easy Ways to Better Manage Diabetes
Eat a Healthier Diet
Eating healthier is one way that all diabetes patients can incorporate into their lifestyles. Reducing sugars from foods (even fruits) and saturated fats from diet from doesn’t cost anything extra. The only thing required is an understanding of how to do so and the action of actually doing it. Here are some easy substitutions:
- Stoneground whole wheat or pumpernickel bread instead of white bread. Many types of bread are high in carbohydrates and raise blood sugar levels quickly. 100% stoneground whole wheat and pumpernickel have much lower processing overall and therefore a lower glycemic index score.
- Real fruit instead of fruit juice. Handheld fruits that are not overripe have less sugars than fruit juice, even fresh, because of the lack of processing and maturation of the fruit itself. The more mature the fruit, the more sugars it contains.
- Yams or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. White potatoes have a high glycemic index score, yams or sweet potatoes are highly nutritious and fibrous and rate lower on the GI score.
For more food information and yummy diabetic recipes click here.
Stay (or Get) Active
Being physically active has health implications for all of us. But for the diabetic, aerobic exercise helps to build strength, control glucose levels and manage weight.
- Walking or hiking. Regular walking is a terrific way to either start becoming active or for maintaining fitness levels. It’s easy for beginners and
- Video games. Even in cold climate or indoor settings, video games can help us to stay active. The Nintendo Wii system has numerous fun fitness “games”, like bowling, baseball or golfing that will help you to stay active even on the darkest or wettest of spring days (even if the patient is chair bound).
- Tracking devices. Using a fitness tracker, even a lower priced option, has advantages such as telling you when you’ve been sitting too long, how many steps you’ve moved throughout the day and will track this data over time. Many diabetics are familiar with tracking what they’re eating, but if you’re able to track not only food, but exercise and sleep patterns, you’ll be ahead of the game. Click here for more information.
Manage Those Digits
Managing diabetes can often feel like a numbers game. From managing sugars to blood pressure and many things in between, it’s all about the numbers.
- Track blood glucose levels. Your doctor will instruct you in how, how often and when to check your levels. Older adults who have diabetes are at higher risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and checking glucose levels regularly is critical.
- Regular blood pressure checks. Home kits for checking blood pressure have made it easy to track and control blood pressure levels. Managing a healthy blood pressure can help to reduce risk for heart disease and stroke.
- No skipping medications. When a number of medications are taken, it can be tough to remember what you’ve taken and when you’ve taken your last does. Using a pill organizer and an alarm system to remind you to take your medication can be very helpful. Click here for more medication management tips.
By starting to manage these items more closely, you’ll be on the road to living a longer and healthier life. For more information on Diabetes management, check out the American Diabetes Association.
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