What You Need to Know About Diabetes as an Older AdultBrandermill Woods independent living angle

What You Need to Know About Diabetes as an Older Adult

Friday, November 18, 2022

November is National Diabetes Month, bringing awareness to a disease that all older adults should  understand. Most of us have heard about diabetes all our lives, but what exactly is diabetes? How does it work? What are the risk factors? And most importantly, what can you do to prevent it?

At Brandermill Woods we love to see our residents living the retirement of their dreams and enjoying life to the fullest. A big part of being able to do so comes from maintaining your physical health as an older adult. From exercise to diet, we support your overall quality of life to help you prevent or treat diseases such as diabetes. Our wellness programming is here to help our residents live out their best retirement—which includes keeping diabetes at bay.

What is diabetes?

To understand diabetes, we must first take a closer look at insulin and how it works in the body. When the foods we eat are broken down into glucose in the blood, insulin is the hormone that’s responsible for helping the glucose to get into our cells to provide us with energy. This hormone is produced by the pancreas.

However, when the pancreas fails to produce insulin or the body is unable to make use of the insulin it produces, this results in elevated blood glucose levels known as hyperglycemia. This consistently high level of blood glucose results in the disease which we refer to as diabetes mellitus or simply diabetes.  

There are 2 main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and adolescents when the body fails to produce insulin or produces very little. Scientists believe that an autoimmune reaction is at the root of type 1 diabetes whereby the body attacks itself and causes damage to the cells responsible for producing insulin. As a result, insulin injections have to betaken daily in order to regulate your blood glucose levels.  

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes is usually a result of poor lifestyle habits and is mainly diagnosed in adults. In this instance, while your body does produce insulin, it is not capable of making use of it as it should resulting in high blood sugar levels.

Beware of prediabetes

Prediabetes refers to a condition where the blood glucose levels are higher than normal levels but not high enough for the person to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.Although you may not receive the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, it is still a cause for serious concern because it can quickly lead to you developing diabetes.

Many will not realize that they are prediabetic until it's too late and the condition has already developed into type 2 diabetes. That’s why it’s important to get regular checkups and consult with your doctor to determine how often you should test your blood sugar levels based on risk factors such as your age, family history and other health complications.

While older adults in particular should keep a close eye on their blood sugar levels, everyone needs to have their health checked. If nothing else, you establish a baseline for monitoring any changes—giving you a road map for correcting course if you ever need it.

The Impact ofLifestyle on Diabetes

Since type1 diabetes is an autoimmune reaction, it is more than likely a purely genetic condition. Type 2 diabetes, however, is much more common and is caused by a combination of genetics and lifestyle. Specifically, a diet high in processed sugar combined with a sedentary lifestyle is a recipe for type 2 diabetes. 

The good news is that both diet and exercise are in your control! A healthy diet of lean meats, an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a limited number of processed foods is your key to a healthy system. Diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes—all of these can be guarded against with the proper diet.

And of course, what’s a healthy diet without a healthy dose of exercise? Getting up and getting fit works in concert to keeping your body in its best shape. The good news is that you don’t have lift weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger or spring around the gym like Simone Biles. A vigorous 30-minute walk every day will do wonders for older adults trying to keep their blood flowing and their minds sharp. 

Wellness Recommendations from Brandermill Woods

Your wellness is a top priority for us here at Brandermill Woods. Whether you have diabetes, prediabetes or are a paragon of good health, you will love the range of healthy meals, the classes in our fitness center and our beautiful campus grounds—all designed with your wellness in mind. 

To support your efforts in healthy living, here are four lifestyle recommendations for preventing diabetes and maintaining the best version of you:

1)    Schedule regular checkups: According to findings by the CDC, approximately 1 in10 Americans have diabetes but 1 in every 5 persons with diabetes doesn’t know that they have it. This stresses the importance of getting regular checkups to closely monitor your blood glucose levels and overall health. Based on your level of care, medical professionals on staff will be available 24 hours a day to assist you. Every resident can also take advantage of our scheduled transportation as necessary to make it to make all their doctor appointments off campus.

2)    Incorporate small changes into your day: When it comes to lifestyle changes, starting small is one of the best ways to develop new habits. Trying to do it all at once will inevitably leave you exhausted, overwhelmed and possibly in a worse position than when you first started. You can choose to set small daily goals or a few weekly goals, it’s all up to you. As eating unhealthy foods is a major factor that leads to type 2 diabetes, start by taking a closer look at the foods you eat and commit to minor changes to your diet at first. Be sure to also consider our dining options on campus.

3)    Care for your mental health: Sometimes healing the body starts by healing the mind. Make mindful practices such as meditation and journaling a part of your everyday routine. Spending a bit of time outdoors each day also goes a long way in boosting your overall mood. Hereat Brandermill Woods, you’d be happy to know that our full-time Wellness Nurse is available onsite from Monday to Friday and our social calendar is also filled with lots of activities and events that are guaranteed to soothe your mind and spirit.

4)   Make fitness fun: While keeping active is usually summed up as just moving more, it’s a lot more than that. You have to ensure that you’re getting in the right amount of exercise every week as well as doing a variety of activities that achieve different goals whether it’s endurance, balance, flexibility and more. There’s never a dull moment on campus so gather with other to make fitness fun and enjoy the many classes that are available at our swimming pool and fitness center.

Come See ForYourself

Whether you’re considering Brandermill Woods as an option for you or a loved one, we’re equipped and ready to serve you as we offer a full continuum of care right on campus to cater to all your needs—including if those needs change over time. Schedule a tour of our campus and come see for yourself by calling (804) 744-1173. You’d be thrilled to learn about all we have to offer to help you live a fulfilling life and active retirement.