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Diabetes Risk Higher Among Seniors

Mar 31, 2016 by Comfort Keepers of Fredericksburg

Diabetes Risk Higher Among Seniors

Chances are you know someone with diabetes, since more than 21 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease.  Additionally, another 8.1 million remain undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association. The combined figure means that 9 percent of our population suffer from diabetes. Unfortunately, for older Americans the risk is significantly greater: 26 percent—or 11.8 million adults age 65 and older—have diabetes, often undiagnosed. When it comes to diabetes, myths can get in the way of reality, and put seniors’ health at risk.

Myth Busting: 7 Real Truths about Diabetes

Here are some of the more common myths about diabetes—and the facts that follow may surprise you.

Myth No. 1: Type 1 diabetes only affects the young.

Fact: Frequently referred to as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes typically manifests in children and young adults, but it can also occur in older adults, particularly those who have gone through chemotherapy or experience damage to their pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune reaction destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to high blood glucose levels.

Myth No. 2: Overweight people eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor, but family history, ethnicity, and age also play a role. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

Myth No. 3: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: Genetics and unknown factors trigger the onset of type 1 diabetes, while genetics and lifestyle factors cause type 2 diabetes. Still, according to the American Diabetes Association, research has linked drinking sugary drinks—such as regular soda, energy drinks, sweet tea and fruit punch—to type 2 diabetes. However, a healthy meal plan combined with exercise enables diabetics to enjoy occasional sweets or desserts. Portioning is important, and you should speak with your doctor about any dietary concerns.

Myth No. 4: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

Fact: People with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet that is good for everyone else: plenty of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, with a limited amount of fat and refined sugar. Diabetic foods generally offer no special benefit. Most still raise blood glucose levels, cost more, and can have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth No. 5: If you have diabetes, you should avoid starchy foods.

Fact: Starchy foods can be part of a healthy meal plan, but portion size is key. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas, and corn are fine for meals and snacks. You and your doctor can determine the right amount for you.

Myth No. 6: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. The one precaution here is to get annual flu shots. Any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and diabetics are more likely to develop serious complications.

Myth No. 7: If you have type 2 diabetes, you need to start using insulin.

Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many keep their blood glucose at a healthy level through diet, exercise, and oral medications. As you age, however, your body gradually produces less of its own insulin so those with diabetes may find that oral medications are not enough to keep blood glucose levels normal.

For seniors with diabetes, staying active and well-nourished can reduce the health risks. To help, Comfort Keepers® developed Interactive Caregiving™, a care giving program comprised of physical, emotional, mental, and social stimulation for seniors’ needs. Contact or call (540) 212-9707 the Comfort Keepers of Fredericksburg to learn more.

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