February 10, 2016

Type 2 Diabetes Tips as You Age

Reasonable tips on maintaining good diabetes management as you age are difficult to find. Yes, there are some tips that are on the Internet, but they are few and mixed with many poor tips. Do I have all the answers – no I don't and the few I will mention in this blog will only scratch the surface.

Some of the tips I will use come from the newsletter Type 2 Diabetes. My biggest complaint is the one-size-fits-all approach many writers use. The first tip I will mention is - “As you age it is important to stay up to date with health maintenance.” This is important and deserves attention.

Here is a list of some tests/screenings and how frequently they should be done if you have diabetes:
  • Dilated Eye Exam: Yearly (I disagree as this must be as frequent as the eye doctor specifies.) Your eyesight is too important to ignore and if the eye doctor says twice a year, see him twice a year, or more often if needed.
  • Urine Test for Microalbumin (tests for kidney disease): Yearly (Again follow what the doctor orders and kidney disease can happen and needs to be taken care of when it happens.)
  • Lipid profile: Yearly (Many doctors suggest twice a year and some do this quarterly. Do not ignore doctor's orders.)
  • A1c test: 2-4 times/year (Again, this will depend on how well you are managing your diabetes and some see their doctor as often as six times per year or more.)

Another tip: Those with diabetes are at greater risk for bone fracture than the general population. Getting adequate exercise as well as sufficient calcium and vitamin D are just a few factors that may reduce your risk. Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about calcium. Many people overdue it with calcium and take too much and cause damage to their blood vessels and kidneys.

Managing type 2 diabetes can become more difficult over time. With age, it’s typical that vision deteriorates, additionally; complications from diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which can result in a loss of vision. It’s important to keep up with your eye exams and to alert your doctor if you notice any new or concerning changes to your vision. Failing vision can make it difficult to read medication labels, so be sure to allow yourself extra time to ask for clarification from your doctor or pharmacist and, if it will help you, ask for large print instructions to take home with you.  Please do not forget about cataracts.

Many people struggle with fine motor skills as they age, often made worse by arthritis. This can make daily tasks more difficult from food preparation to dosing and administering medications or injections. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your diabetes medical team about finding simple, easy to use, devices. Think large, easy-to-see print, less buttons and less special functions, as these may be more confusing than helpful. Consider asking a family member, friend or caregiver to preload your insulin syringes or help with meal preparation.

Find a good podiatrist or consider a trusted caregiver to trim your nails and toenails for you. Decreased flexibility can make that task challenging and diabetic neuropathy means you may not be able to feel it if you accidentally trim too close to the skin. A podiatrist will examine your feet, while trimming your toenails, for other problems and foot ulcers so that they can be treated early and thus prevent amputations.

No comments: