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Growing Old and Staying Healthy with Diabetes

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Growing Old and Staying Healthy with Diabetes

Growing Old and Staying Healthy with Diabetes

October 09, 2008


By: Laurie Edwards for Diabetes1


For many Americans, aging means joining the more than 20 million patients who have already developed diabetes. In fact, as Diabetes Spectrum reports, half of all people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are over the age of 60. As these numbers continue to rise with the aging of the baby-boomer population, one-third of all Americans are likely to develop diabetes over the next few decades.

Take Action
Staying ahead of complications
  • Prevention is still powerful. Keep on top of your check-ups with your various specialists to avoid accelerating diabetes complications.
  • Prevention is still powerful. Keep on top of your check-ups with your various specialists to avoid accelerating diabetes complications.
  • Workout well. Remember that your needs change as you age, as does your stamina, flexibility and strength. Consider meeting with a fitness trainer to tailor a workout that is best for your joints, your heart and your diabetes.
  • The older you are, the more likely you are to experience the various complications that come with diabetes Fortunately, statistics and projections aside, there are several common sense ways to grow old with diabetes and still remain healthy.


    How the Body Ages With Diabetes

    There are important reasons why the relationship between aging and diabetes is such a complicated one. For starters, as you age, your body’s metabolic rate naturally declines, likely due to loss of muscle mass. In addition, your body becomes less efficient at taking glucose from your blood and using it, a process called glucose intolerance. Insulin resistance is believed to be a factor in glucose intolerance and is influenced by excess body fat, which interferes with the muscles’ ability to use insulin.


    Diabetic complications also contribute to this process. For example, aging eyesight can be worsened by eye problems associated with diabetes, such as retinopathy and glaucoma. Joint diseases like osteoarthritis that increase with age can be further aggravated by diabetic nerve damage.


    What You Can Do to Age Well with Diabetes

    Control is key, so be vigilant about testing and monitoring your blood glucose levels. This is always an important part of disease management, but when you start getting older it’s even more critical. Uncontrolled blood sugar can accelerate some of the effects of aging and increases the likelihood of developing complications.


    Other numbers that are important are your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and your body weight, since all are associated with cardiovascular disease.


    Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. In fact, it’s more important than ever to keep moving, especially given the slower metabolism and decreased aerobic capacity that aging brings with it. Activities like walking, swimming, running, or cycling are great ways to get aerobic exercise and increase stamina.


    Since decreased muscle mass is the primary culprit behind some of these age-related declines, strength training is a smart option for people with diabetes. Not only does it help aid in weight loss and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but it also helps build lean muscle and may improve metabolism.


    Of course, proper nutrition is always a staple of self-care. That doesn’t change as you get older, but keep in mind that as you age, you might not always able to absorb all the nutrients you need from food. Talk to a nutritionist or dietitian about any supplements you may need and any changes you should make in your daily meal plan.



    Discuss Aging with Diabetes in our Forums More Forums

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