Facts about diabetes

According to a 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control, 10.9 million people aged 65 or older have diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to convert food into energy. Insulin is a hormone the body manufactures to convert food into the glucose that our bodies need.

People with diabetes get too much glucose in their blood because their body may not make enough insulin, may not use insulin in the right way, or both. This can lead to complications, such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, circulation problems and a higher-than-normal risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

There are two types of diabetes. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Type 1 diabetes (formerly called juvenile diabetes) causes the body to make insufficient levels of insulin. Type 2, formerly called adult-onset diabetes, causes the body to use insulin inefficiently. 

Although both types of diabetes can be contracted at any age, the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) states that 90–95 percent of older adults with diabetes have Type 2. Symptoms of Type 2 diabetes include feeling tired or ill, unusual thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and slow healing of wounds. See your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent diabetes. According to NIA, one is at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes if he or she is overweight, inactive, or has a family history of diabetes. Good nutrition, adequate exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are recommended. Healthy eating and physical activity for at least 30 minutes, five days a week can make a big difference. Work with your doctor to set up a plan.

NDEP further recommends keeping one’s cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure at healthy levels and checking them regularly. Cholesterol should be checked once a year, blood glucose checked twice a year, and blood pressure at every doctor visit.

The Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland provides support and education to people in the community who have diabetes. Its services include self-management training, telephone counseling and referral, risk assessment, peer support groups, assistance with blood glucose monitoring supplies and insulin syringes. The partnership also help clients develop personal action plans and coping skills. It can be reached at 216-591-0800.

According to NIA, Medicare will pay for you to learn how to care for your diabetes. It also helps pay for diabetes tests, supplies, special shoes, foot exams, eye tests and meal planning. Medicare can be reached at 800-633-4227.

For more information about diabetes, its prevention and management, call NIA at 800-222-2225 and NDEP at 888-693-6337.

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through www.lovinghandsgroup.com. She can be reached at 216-408-5578 or judith@lovinghandsgroup.com.

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Volume 7, Issue 2, Posted 2:51 PM, 01.30.2014