Checking sugar levels. Injecting insulin. Carefully watching your diet. If this describes an average day in your life, or that of an older adult you adore, you understand firsthand the challenges that come with a diabetes diagnosis. As November is Diabetes Awareness Month, the aging care team at Compassionate Nursing Services is pleased to share the following information every diabetic – and each member of the family who cares for one – should know.
What Does It Mean to Have Diabetes?
In a nutshell, our bodies transform some of the foods we eat into glucose, which provides the energy we need – but only when our bodies make enough of the hormone insulin to break down the glucose for our cells to be able to access it. Diabetics’ bodies are either not able to make enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), or aren’t able to make use of the insulin correctly (type 2 diabetes), leading to an excessive amount of glucose in the blood.
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to significant health concerns, such as kidney, eye, and nerve complications, heart disease and stroke, as well as a heightened risk for Alzheimer’s or cancer.
What Are Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes?
Many people with type 2 diabetes have such mild symptoms, or symptoms that come and go, that they do not even recognize there’s an issue until the disease advances and symptoms worsen. Signs to watch for include:
- Increased hunger and/or thirst
- Weight loss
- Blurry vision
- Frequent urination
- Slower healing of cuts and bruises
- Skin infections
It’s essential to consult with a doctor if any of these symptoms become apparent.
Can Diabetes Be Managed?
The good news is, once diagnosed and effectively treated, and with adherence to changes in lifestyle, diabetes can be controlled and managed. For some, changes to exercise and diet are sufficient, while other people need to have insulin injections and/or medication.
Your physician will put together a diabetes management plan to implement, which might include:
- How and when to track glucose levels
- Which foods to eat and which to avoid
- Physical activities and exercises
- A medication regimen
Strategies to optimize health while managing diabetes include:
- Manage your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and have them checked on a routine basis.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Get annual flu and pneumonia vaccines, along with annual kidney and eye exams.
- Check your feet daily to look for sores, red patches, blisters, calluses, as well as other skin abnormalities, and visit a podiatrist with any concerns.
- Keep skin protected, clean, and moisturized.
- Ask the doctor for recommendations on cancer screenings, and for help with any other physical, emotional, or mental health concerns being experienced.
Compassionate Nursing Services, a provider of Chesterfield caregiving services, can help people who have diabetes in a variety of ways, including transportation to medical appointments and procedures, meal planning and preparation in accordance with nutritional restrictions, medication reminders, and more. Give us a call at 314-432-4312 for a free in-home consultation for more information about our exceptional Chesterfield caregiving services throughout the St. Louis area.