November is American Diabetes Month, a time set aside by the American Diabetes Association to raise awareness of diabetes, to help educate people on the risks associated with the disease, and to find resources to better manage diabetes. This is important because research shows that over 7 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed. On top of that, 1 in 3 American adults are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This means you could be living with a chronic disease and not even know it.
The Importance of Knowing
Why is it so important to know whether you have diabetes? The simple answer is that by taking better care of yourself and managing your diabetes, you can live a healthier life and avoid the complications that can arise when the disease goes untreated. Some complications of diabetes can include: heart disease, eye damage (retinopathy), neuropathy, and Alzheimer’s.
How does diabetes lead to those other problems? People with Type 2 diabetes aren’t able to regulate and use sugar the way non-diabetics do. Their pancreas is still able to make insulin, but the cells don’t respond to it the way they should, which causes the pancreas to increase insulin production. This means there is too much sugar circulating in the blood stream, which over time can lead to problems with the circulatory, nervous and immune systems.
Many people live with diabetes for years without knowing they have the disease. Be aware of the symptoms, to know whether you might need to ask your doctor to check for diabetes. Symptoms include:
· Increased thirst
· Frequent urination
· Wounds that are slow to heal
· Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
Understanding the risk factors can also help you make a decision to get tested for diabetes. Risk factors include a family history of diabetes, being overweight, and not getting proper amounts of exercise. Take this quiz to find out your own diabetes risk level.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
Luckily, for many people diabetes can be controlled with some lifestyle changes.
Get Moving. Getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to control Type 2 diabetes, or delay the onset if you are at risk or already at pre-diabetes levels. Doctors recommend at least getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week, which can be as simple as taking a brisk walk in your neighborhood or at the mall. Exercise helps lower your body’s blood glucose levels. It also lowers your risk of developing heart disease, and can help you lose weight, which in turn improves how your body manages blood glucose levels.
For many elderly people, getting enough exercise and staying active can be a challenge. Our talented team at Piedmont Home Care is able to work with our clients to motivate them to get moving, and to help provide options for exercise that are safe.
The types of food you put into your body play a large part in determining your blood glucose levels. It seems like common sense to avoid eating foods high in sugar if you want to lower your blood sugar levels. But it also helps to eat a diet that is made up of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. Some resources for great-tasting foods that are also good for you can be found here: Mayo Clinic Diabetes Plan Recipes Eating Well: 35 Diabetes-Friendly Dinners Taste of Home: 67 Easy Diabetic Dinner Recipes
If you or a loved one is dealing with Type 2 diabetes and would like some help in managing the disease, the expert team at Piedmont Home Care can help. Our caregivers work with clients to improve their lifestyle habits. We can help clients exercise more according to their abilities, as well as provide education on healthy nutrition and assist in making meals.
Call us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.