November is Diabetes Awareness Month. With Diabetes, your body either can’t produce or properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas.
Cases of people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes continue to climb across Canada, particularly for people over the age of 65. More than 5.7 million Canadians are living with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
Difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes stem from the body’s inability to store and use glucose properly. Both types have the same underlying issue, but there are profound differences between the two.
Type 1 Diabetes
This type of diabetes typically appears in children or adolescents but may also occur in adults. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder heavily influenced by genetics, where the body produces insufficient levels of insulin. There is currently no method of prevention for Type 1 Diabetes, and it is much rarer than Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is much more common, making up almost 95% of total cases, and tends to develop later in life, characterized by the body’s inability to process insulin effectively. The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes has increased dramatically over the past couple of decades and is associated with a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes can be effectively managed and treated if detected early enough. Some warning signs to be on the lookout for may include:
- Increased thirst and hunger
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
- Blurred visible
- Inexplicable weight loss
- Skin discoloration
- Persistent foot sores or ulcers
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes occurs when the pancreas no longer produces sufficient insulin levels or insulin resistance develops. But what causes insulin resistance?
Various factors can contribute to the onset of insulin sensitivity and resistance. Some of those factors can be:
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet
- Lack of sleep
- High blood pressure
- High blood glucose levels
- Cholesterol levels
• Low HDL cholesterol (healthy cholesterol)
• High LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
- Chronic inflammation
Poor diet and lack of exercise are two of the most significant risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Put those two together, and your risk of developing the disease increases significantly.
How to Prevent and Manage Type 2 Diabetes
Prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes can occur by making healthy lifestyle changes. This is particularly important for seniors.
Seniors at risk for or living with Type 2 Diabetes can focus on:
- Implementing a nutritious diet
- Staying hydrated
- Getting regular exercise
- Managing medications
- Monitoring blood sugar
- Monitoring blood pressure
- Monitoring cholesterol
- Effective foot care
One of the most significant factors to focus on for Type 2 Diabetes prevention and treatment is diet. A nutritious diet is crucial for seniors at risk for diabetes. A healthy diet should be low in calories and high in nutrients.
Foods to focus on include:
- Whole grains
- Protein–quality fish and poultry
- Moderate levels of healthy carbohydrates
Foods to avoid are:
- Sugary beverages
- Any foods with added sugar
- Trans fats – baked goods, chips, spreads and dips
- High carbs – pasta, white bread, rice – anything with refined flour
- Processed meats
- Excess red meat
- Packaged and canned foods
- Deep fried foods
Proper vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help prevent chronic inflammation, leading to Type 2 Diabetes and other health conditions.
A nutritious diet should be accompanied with plenty of water. Staying hydrated is critical for optimal health and illness prevention.
Daily exercise is also critical for Type 2 Diabetes prevention. Even just an hour a day of low-impact exercise can make a huge difference. A combination of aerobic activity and strength and flexibility exercises is ideal. Try to avoid sitting still for extended periods.
Taking your medication exactly as prescribed is essential for the medication to have its intended effects and also to prevent adverse side effects. There may also be some medications that can help manage your situation, as prescribed by your physician.
Monitoring Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure, and Cholesterol
Keeping track of glucose (sugar) and cholesterol levels in the blood and maintaining healthy blood pressure are all effective measures for keeping type 2 diabetes in check. A blood glucose meter is used to check your blood sugar at home. You can get these meters at most pharmacies. Consult a healthcare professional for recommended methods and frequency.
Persisting sores and ulcers on the feet are often an indicator of type 2 diabetes. Seniors should inspect their feet daily for blemishes and engage in healthy foot care practices like cleaning, moisturizing, and wearing proper footwear.
In October 2023, Promyse Foot Care Specialists were named the KW Record’s Reader’s Choice for Nursing Foot Care in Kitchener-Waterloo! Our senior loved ones need advice, education, and support to maintain foot health. Our team is carefully screened for their training, knowledge, and experience and selected for their care and compassion.
Caring for Seniors with Diabetes Living at Home
The healthcare team at Promyse provides specialized diabetic care to help seniors manage their blood glucose levels, stay healthy, and avoid complications in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge.