Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects a large number of people. The condition is often diagnosed later in life, compared to type 1 diabetes, which is often found in younger patients. With type 2 diabetes in particular, a large percentage of those affected include older adults. As we age, we become susceptible to more complications and diseases, such as heart conditions and Alzheimer’s. Combined with type 2 diabetes, older adults may have a troubling time managing their overall health. We assess the current situation with type 2 diabetes mellitus among older adults and look at effective management strategies.
The Prevalence Of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Older Adults
Individuals who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes generally involve adults. The condition often occurs after the body’s resistance to insulin builds up. At this point, the condition is known as insulin resistance. Should appropriate lifestyle changes and interventions not be implemented, type 2 diabetes may develop.
According to studies, almost half of all cases related to type 2 diabetes are related to elderly patients – with a particular focus on those who are 65 years or older.
Current Challenges With Type 2 Diabetes Among Older Adults
There are several age-related diseases and conditions that the elderly have to consider. Type 2 diabetes is not associated with age, but rather a condition that you will often develop as an adult. Since no cure exists for type 2 diabetes, you’ll continue to live with the disease into your senior years. At this point, however, comorbidities become a concerning issue.
Some of the most common health conditions that are seen among the elderly include:
- Hearing loss
- Memory problems
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Bone and cartilage fractures
Another common issue seen among older individuals is obesity. It has been reported that about 41.5% of adults who are 60 years or older are obese. Another report explains that older adults who are obese also have a much lower physical activity level compared to those who are not obese. This particular statistic can be seen as early as the age of 51.
This is also where the problem with diabetes among older individuals comes in. When you have diabetes, as well as other age-related conditions, the management of these diseases becomes more difficult. Your doctor has to consider drug interactions, as well as how one medicine may interact with another condition that you have.
The Importance Of Exercise Among Older Adults
There are several reasons why older people are more susceptible to certain diseases and complications. With a high obesity rate and many seniors living a sedentary lifestyle, these are factors that need to be addressed when it comes to improving the management of diabetes and comorbidities in these people.
Regular exercise can provide several health benefits for older adults. If a loved one who is older than 65 seems to be sedentary, then implementing steps to encourage physical activity is a good idea. Support becomes crucial for these individuals - not only from caretakers, but also from close family members.
There are several benefits that older adults can experience when they exercise regularly. There is no need for strenuous activities, but even light exercises can provide certain advantages in old age.
Let’s consider some of the benefits that exercise offers seniors:
- We gradually lose some of our bone density as we age. This leads to fragile bones and increases the risk of fractures, as well as osteoporosis. Regular exercise, particularly strength training, may help to slow down the loss of bone density.
- People who already have osteoporosis may find that exercise improves their pain symptoms.
- In one study, it was found that those over 60 years old have a significant reduction of biomarkers related to Alzheimer’s when they exercise for at least half an hour each day.
- It has also been found that exercise can help to provide improvements in immunity and even boost mood in older adults.
Apart from these factors, working out is a great way for older adults to keep fit and maintain a healthy weight. There is a strong relationship that exists between obesity and type 2 diabetes. Individuals who are obese may also be more likely to experience certain complications linked to type 2 diabetes. When you are obese, following an exercise plan and a healthy diet, even at an older age, can be useful for burning calories and reducing your body fat percentage. In turn, this could help to promote better blood sugar control and reduce the risk of serious complications.
Treating Type 2 Diabetes In Older Adults
The treatment options for type 2 diabetes in older adults will remain very similar to what younger patients obtain. This generally starts with lifestyle changes, if not already implemented. Frequent glucose monitoring is also important, especially since older adults are more prone to experience hypoglycemia when they have type 2 diabetes.
Due to the higher risk of hypoglycemia, regulations regarding blood glucose monitoring and stabilized blood sugar levels are often less strict among older adults. With this said, doctors will still need to do frequent tests to determine the impact of diabetes on the body, as well as see how other comorbidities interact with the condition.
Treatment may also include the use of either oral medication or insulin injections to further assist with the stabilization of blood glucose. Insulin levels will be adjusted by the doctor to prevent hypoglycemia, while also avoiding consistent spikes in blood glucose levels. Among older adults, a personalized approach to treatment is important, as healthcare providers need to consider factors like other diseases, as well as all the medication that the senior is taking. This helps to prevent interactions between diseases and drugs.
Older adults with diabetes may find it difficult to effectively manage the condition, especially when they also have other diseases. There are still strategies that can help with the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus in older adults, but outside assistance from caregivers or close family members may sometimes be required.