Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how the body metabolizes sugar, an important source of fuel for your body. In type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to manage normal glucose levels in the body.
Living with Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and senior adults, predominantly in overweight and inactive individuals. Therefore, an even greater risk exists in your senior loved one may be more inactive due to other health issues. If there is a family history of diabetes or a history of gestational diabetes (developed during pregnancy), your loved one may be at a greater risk. Because it can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and nerve damage, the long-term benefits of senior care for a loved one with type 2 diabetes are even more important.
Millions of older Americans have “prediabetes” or glucose levels that are higher than normal. People with prediabetes have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes and having a heart attack or stroke. This is a time that testing becomes important. Losing weight with a healthy diet and exercise, quitting smoking (if applicable), and checking your glucose levels as requested by your doctor, are things that can help.
4 Tests for Type 2 Diabetes
Next, it is important to test for type 2 diabetes when any slight symptoms are seen in your loved one. If the risks exist, senior care is helpful to make sure that doctor appointments are made in order to complete a diagnosis.
Some of the most common tests that diagnose type 2 diabetes include:
- Random plasma glucose test
- A1C test – shows your average glucose level for the past 3 months
- Fasting plasma glucose test (after not eating for at least 8 hours)
- Oral glucose tolerance test (after fasting overnight and then again 2 hours after having a sugary drink – though not typically for type 2 diabetes)
4 Ways to Prevent Diabetes
Healthy lifestyle choices can prevent type 2 diabetes even if there is a family history. If your loved one already received a diagnosis, healthy lifestyle choices can prevent complications. Additionally, with prediabetes, lifestyle changes can slow or stop the progression of diabetes.
A healthy lifestyle includes:
Eat healthy foods – Foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are helpful.
Get active – Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 15 to 30 minutes of tough aerobics, most days, including a brisk daily walk, bike ride, or swim laps.
Lose weight – If overweight, lose 5 to 10 percent of body weight to reduce the risk of diabetes, and keep body weight in a healthy range with permanent change.
Avoid long periods of sedation – Sitting for long periods can increase type 2 diabetes risk, so get up every 30 minutes and move around for a bit.
Sometimes medication can help with the prevention of type 2 diabetes, including Metformin (e.g. Glucophage and Glumetza), an oral diabetes medication. However, medication isn’t necessarily a method alone and requires healthy lifestyle choices to prevent or managing diabetes. Keep in mind for your loved ones that type 2 diabetes is known as adult-onset diabetes, resulting from many causes. Without a cure for type 2 diabetes, the tips for prevention and management listed above can help with health in the long run.