Diabetes can cause health complications
Diabetes in older adults is associated with increased risk of other serious medical conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and falls.
Today, more than 25% of the US population aged 65 and over have diabetes. The link between diabetes and other serious health issues is a likely reason why so many older adults have multiple health conditions.
Why does diabetes cause other health problems?
Diabetes is a disease where the level of glucose in the blood (also called blood sugar) is too high. This can happen when the body doesn’t make enough insulin.
Insulin moves glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. But when there isn’t enough insulin, glucose doesn’t get into the cells and builds up in the blood. This causes symptoms like extreme thirst or hunger, frequent need to urinate, and fatigue.
Over time, high blood glucose seriously damages the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, gums, teeth, nerves, and blood vessels.
This can lead to health complications like heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, gum infections, and amputation. People with diabetes are also more likely to have heart disease or a stroke and at an earlier age.
Here, we talk about the 5 most common diabetes complications.
5 common diabetes complications
- Heart disease
Heart diseases are more likely to occur in older adults with diabetes. Talk with the doctor to get prevention tips, learn about symptoms to watch for, and find out about treatment options for someone who has both diabetes and heart diseases.
- Alzheimer’s & dementia
Alzheimer’s and dementia are twice as likely to occur in patients with diabetes. If you notice unusual behavior or recurring memory or cognitive problems, visit the doctor for a full evaluation.
- Falls & fractures
Diabetes and related conditions that make physical movement more difficult are associated with higher risk of falls and fractures. Stay on top of this by asking their doctor to regularly evaluate your senior’s fall risk.
- Multiple medications
Diabetic older adults often use 6 or more prescription medications. Because so many medicines are being taken, people with diabetes have a higher risk of side effects and drug interactions. Ask the doctor to do a comprehensive medication and supplement review on a regular basis.
- Other complications
Depression, vision or hearing impairment, and incontinence are additional medical conditions that are more likely to occur in people with diabetes. Be aware that these conditions may be related to diabetes and get symptoms checked by a doctor.
These 5 medical complications are seen at a much higher rate among older adults with diabetes.
If you notice your senior developing new symptoms or see signs of these complications, talk to their doctor ASAP to find out what’s causing the problem. Early detection and treatment can make a big difference in quality of life and treatment options.
Sources: NIH Senior Health, American Diabetes Association & American Geriatrics Society
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