Type 2 diabetes is a major threat to the health of seniors in America. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 25% of Americans age 65 and older suffer from type 2 diabetes (including both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases). That adds up to more than 12 million seniors across the country!
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases as we get older, and that risk is higher if your loved one is overweight, inactive, or has a family history of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can also lead to health problems like increased infections, delayed healing, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, and nerve damage (which can lead to limb amputation). Seniors with type 2 diabetes may also be at an increased risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Are you or a loved one at risk for type 2 diabetes?
Many seniors are dealing with multiple health problems, which may make it difficult to recognize the signs of type 2 diabetes. Following are some of the signs of type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Recognizing the signs can allow your Mom or Dad to act quickly to mitigate damage and restore health (and in the case of prediabetes, can even delay or prevent the onset of full-blown type 2 diabetes).
Increased thirst and/or frequent urination
The first sign of type 2 diabetes in seniors is frequently increased thirst (and along with that, frequent urination). That’s because excess glucose in the bloodstream due to type 2 diabetes will suck the fluid from the tissues. This triggers a sense of thirst to replenish those lost fluids.
Chronic tiredness or weakness
Some may chalk up being tired as another sign “of getting older,” but it can also be caused by the body’s inability to properly process sugar.
The body will try to compensate for the loss of fluid by triggering thirst. This can also lead to overeating in some people, and ultimately weight gain. Conversely, some seniors with type 2 diabetes actually lose weight despite overeating, since the muscles do not get enough glucose.
Vision problems may be caused by allergies, or could simply be a sign your loved one needs an updated prescription. As type 2 diabetes saps the body’s fluid, it also affects fluid in the eyes, which can result in blurry vision.
Numbness or tingling sensations
Circulation issues resulting from type 2 diabetes can cause neuropathy in seniors. Decreased sensation in the legs, feet, arms and/or hands may occur. Your loved one may also be experiencing tingling or burning pain in those areas. Both numbness and burning pain are signs of neuropathy (nerve damage).
Type 2 diabetes can cause redness and inflammation of the gums, increasing your senior loved one’s risk of infection and putting his or her teeth in jeopardy.
Next steps if you recognize any of these signs in your senior loved one.
While many of these symptoms are commonly associated with other afflictions, it’s important to call a doctor as soon as possible upon recognizing any of these signs in seniors. Prompt treatment and lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on your loved one’s long-term health.
Specialized diabetes home care services from Interim HealthCare can also help mitigate the risks associated with type 2 diabetes and keep Mom or Dad healthy. To learn more about this specialized service, contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location.