Knowing some do’s and don’ts can help keep your health on the right track.
CHANGING HABITS CAN be difficult, particularly if you have developed diabetes later in life, but it isn’t impossible. Here are a few ways to manage Type 2 diabetes and reduce your risk of complications:
1. DO get out and move.
Exercising daily can help lower blood sugar. The World Heath Organization recommends seniors get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. That activity can be broken down into five 30-minute sessions, and it does not need to be strenuous. Walking, dancing, swimming, and gardening all qualify.
2. DON’T smoke.
People with diabetes already have a higher risk of developing heart disease. Smoking increases that risk by raising bad cholesterol and blood pressure. If you need help quitting, talk to your primary care provider.
3. DO eat a healthy diet.
The American Diabetes Association recommends eating vegetables, lean sources of protein, such as chicken and beans, and fruit. In addition, reduce the amount of added sugars in your diet. Finally, avoid trans fats, which are found in foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils.
4. DON’T drink alcoholic beverages excessively or while hungry.
Alcohol hinders the production of glucose (a kind of sugar) in the liver. That can lead to low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, a particular problem for older adults with diabetes. Stick to the one-drink-per-day limit for women and two-per-day for men, and never drink alcohol on an empty stomach.
5. DO track your blood sugar levels.
Monitoring throughout the day can help you understand how different foods, activities, and medications affect you. Both high and low blood sugar levels can be harmful. Talk to your primary care provider about when and how often you should check your blood sugar and what your target numbers should be.
6. DON’T forget to take your medications.
Continue taking prescribed medicine even if you feel fine, but talk to your primary care provider if you are experiencing unpleasant side effects.
7. DO get necessary screenings.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recommends that people with diabetes have their blood pressure checked often, vision, kidneys, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked once a year, and blood sugar level checked with an A1c blood test twice a year.
8. DO take advantage of your Medicare benefits.
Medicare Part B plans include coverage for diabetes self-management training for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. This training offers tips for changing your diet and fitting more physical activity into your life. It also helps you better understand how to take medications correctly.