Fall is a time to enjoy cooler weather, beautiful leaf colors, and holidays! However, it is also a time to focus on a debilitating and life changing silent killer: diabetes. It is the fifth largest-growing disease in the world.
In the United States, diabetes has become more prevalent as Americans exercise less, eat more, and make poorer food choices. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, and another 79 million are pre-diabetic and at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The estimated national cost of diagnosed diabetic medical needs is $174 billion. Those are staggering figures all around!
Our elderly loved ones and aging parents are especially at risk. Statistics show that one out of every four people over the age of 60 is diabetic. As the body ages, it often either produces less insulin or uses insulin less effectively. Blood sugar levels then become imbalanced. It is vital that caregivers educate themselves so that they can recognize the warning signs and learn to manage the symptoms.
Ten Warning Signs of Diabetes
- frequent need to urinate
- urine that smells sweet because sugar is being secreted
- extreme thirst or hunger
- blurred vision
- shaking or tremors
- irregular or fast heartbeat
- anxiety, irritability, or confusion
- feelings of weakness or fatigue
How Can I Help My Diabetic Parent?
- Be proactive by educating yourself about diabetes, its warning signs, and treatment options.
- Discuss the disease with your parent and his or her doctor.
- Be aware of personality changes that indicate blood sugar levels have become imbalanced.
- Help your parent implement a balanced eating program.
- Encourage your parent to exercise regularly.
- Regularly monitor your parent’s blood sugar levels.
- Join a support group and attend with your parent.
Helping your loved ones live with diabetes can be challenging, but it is possible to manage effectively. This disease has often been called a silent killer because its symptoms can develop suddenly or mimic symptoms that occur naturally with age. Diligence is vital in mitigating age-related complications. Be alert for your loved ones! Help them live long, happy, healthy, active, and productive lives!