November is National Diabetes Awareness Month (NDAM), an international celebration focused on raising awareness for all forms of diabetes, its signs and symptoms, and gain support for critical research toward preventing, better treating and curing all forms of the disease. The theme for NDAM 2015 is “T1D [Type 1 Diabetes] Looks Like Me”. The sentiment behind the theme is to celebrate the stories and individuals who live beyond type 1 diabetes to accomplish their goals and dreams.
Once you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the doctor may prescribe diabetes medicines to help control blood glucose levels. There are many kinds of medication available. Your doctor will choose the best treatment based on the type of diabetes you have, your everyday routine, your age, and other health problems.
Seniors with diabetes and their caregivers must be even more meticulous as older adults are at an increased risk for specific complications that require diligence and care to properly mitigate. The most common ways you control your diabetes is by:
- Tracking your glucose levels. Very high glucose levels or very low glucose levels (called hypoglycemia) can be risky to your health. Learn how to check and track your glucose levels at home.
- Making healthy food choices. Learn how different foods affect glucose levels. For weight loss, check out foods that are low in fat and sugar. If necessary seek assistance with menu planning.
- Getting exercise. Daily exercise can help improve glucose levels in older people with diabetes.
Your doctor may want you to see other healthcare providers who can help manage some of the extra problems caused by diabetes. He or she can also give you a schedule for other tests that may be needed. Create a circle of professionals to help you stay healthy.
- Have yearly eye exams. Finding and treating eye problems early may keep your eyes healthy.
- Check your kidneys annually as diabetes can affect their function. A urine and blood test will show if your kidneys are okay.
- Get the flu shot every year and the pneumonia vaccine.
- At least once a year, schedule a blood test to determine your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. High levels may increase your risk for heart problems.
- Care for your teeth and gums by having them checked twice a year by a dentist to avoid serious problems.
- At least twice a year, get a blood test called the A1C test. The result will show your average glucose level for the past 2 to 3 months.
- Protect your skin by keeping your skin clean and use skin softeners for dryness. Take care of minor cuts and bruises to prevent infections.
- Take time to look at your feet every day for any red patches. Ask someone else to check your feet if you are unable to do it properly. If you have sores, blisters, breaks in the skin, infections, or build-up of calluses, see a podiatrist or geriatric foot care nurse.
- Get your blood pressure checked often.
Next week I will provide some additional information and resources for this prevalent disease. In the interim, we are pleased to have the local Canadian Diabetes office located in our complex at the Bay View Mall. The office is open most weekdays, but you can call 613-962-6520 and ensure the office is staffed.