Managing Diabetes for Older Adults

The Three P’s Of Diabetes

Diabetes often goes underrecognized because people can live with diabetes and have little to no symptoms. There are three P’s when it comes to diabetes: polydipsia, polyuria, and polyphagia. Polydipsia is an increase in thirst. Someone who is experiencing polydipsia may feel thirsty all the time and suffer from dry mouth. Polyuria means that you are passing urine more frequently than what is considered normal. With the average being around one or two liters a day, a person suffering from polyuria will pass more than three liters of urine in a day. Lastly, polyphagia means the person is experiencing excessive hunger. If continual hunger is causing a problem in your life, it could be the sign of an underlying condition.

These three conditions are often found together, although not always. Just one of those symptoms is a huge red flag of undiagnosed diabetes. Often, someone may feel excessive thirst, but they just think it is dehydration. When, in reality, excessive thirst is coming from increased blood glucose levels. When those levels are high, your kidneys produce more urine to remove the extra glucose from your body. Then, the brain is telling you that you need more water to replace the excess glucose. Hence, the feeling of intense thirst that can be a direct result of diabetes. The three P’s of diabetes will also occur faster in people with type 1 diabetes than people with type 2 diabetes. The three P’s are easy to dismiss; that’s why it can be a silent killer.

How Diabetes Will Affect Wounds

The amputation risk of people with diabetes is fifteen to forty times greater than those without diabetes. Twenty years ago, the diabetic population was only five percent of the general population. However, more than fifty percent of non-traumatic lower extremity amputations were on people who have diabetes. So why do people with diabetes have a high amputation rate? Diabetes will do some devastating things to the human body. Unmanaged diabetes will negatively impact the microvascular blood flow. The tiny arteries that feed our tissue will become damaged. Therefore, it leaves our tissues exposed to no blood flow, no oxygen, and no nutrients. One of the most significant side effects of diabetes is arteriosclerosis.

Arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. It will negatively impact the large blood flow vessels in the body as well. It doesn’t just affect the lower extremities, but it will affect us from head to toes. People that have diabetes end up with strokes, heart attacks, and other significant issues. However, our lower extremities are the farthest away from the heart. The farther you go from the heart, the harder it will be for blood to get there (even if you’re healthy). Now, imagine not being healthy from diabetes. The number one wounds from diabetes are on feet, toes, and lower extremities. If you manage your blood sugars as a person with diabetes, that’s not enough. It won’t protect you from the long-term devastating effects of diabetes.

The Importance of Glycemic Control For Seniors

Glycemic control means seniors are ensuring the foods that they eat can be processed appropriately by their body and utilized as fuel for their cells. Managing blood sugar for seniors is imperative so their cells can be healthy. Plus, healthy cells will use glucose as energy in their body. When seniors don’t manage glycemic control, their body will feel like it’s starving, and their cells will feel like they are starving. The body will tell them that they are thirsty and hungry even though they have enough nutrition in their body. Practicing reasonable glycemic control means seniors are following the diet prescribed by their doctor. Learning how to count carbs and grams of sugar will be essential, especially for someone with a diabetes diagnosis.

When blood sugars go high and swing the other way, it can be dangerous. These ongoing swings are actually more dangerous than having a chronically elevated glycemic index. If you’re a senior and worry about your nutrition, then request to see a nutritionist. Most insurance will provide that for new diabetics. Also, many hospitals will have a nutrition class or support group. We know that the number of people with diabetes is a significant drain on our healthcare dollars. So, hospitals don’t want people to end up with amputations. After an amputation, people are only expected to live another five years. That’s why it’s critical to take control of your health now. To learn more about diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association. If you want to stay up to date with what is affecting our senior population, follow The National Injured Senior Law Center on Facebook.

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