A woman of any age can get type 2 diabetes, but it is no surprise that it does tend to be more common for older women. If you are of senior age, you might have a higher concern about having diabetes, and experiencing some of the related complications. Take a look at the following information if this is something you are concerned about.
Common Risks and Complications
Older women who have diabetes will first have some higher risks and complications. This is important to be aware of so that you can work closely with your doctor to avoid the potential complications. While anyone with diabetes has a risk of eye diseases and vision loss, the risk is greater when you get older. This includes with eye diseases like diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and blurry vision. You also have a higher risk for hearing loss, loss of your cognitive function, and mobility issues. By managing your blood sugar, you can avoid these and other complications as a result of your disease.
Managing Your Diabetes
In order to avoid these types of complications as a senior woman with diabetes, you need to make sure you manage your diabetes. The way you manage it will vary based on the type of diabetes, your age, and how severe it is for you. Some women will only need to change their lifestyle, like exercising and eating better, while others need insulin or have to check their blood sugar and take medications. Your doctor will continue monitoring your blood glucose levels and might change your treatments at a certain point.
Changing Your Lifestyle
Healthy lifestyle changes are crucial when it comes to being a senior woman and managing diabetes. You should get regular exercise, get plenty of rest, and follow a healthy diet. These healthy lifestyle changes alongside your medical treatment will help you to manage your diabetes and live a fulfilling life even with this disease.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
One thing many people don’t realize about seniors and diabetes is that it can affect their mental health as well as physical health. This is due to many of the symptoms and side effects of diabetes. Perhaps changing your diet or lifestyle is a hard transition, or you are experiencing vision loss or nerve damage that is painful for you. It is important that you take your mental health seriously if you have diabetes.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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