November is National Diabetes Month, a time when senior communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes and it is estimated that millions of older Americans have “prediabetes.” This means their glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. People with prediabetes have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes and having a heart attack or stroke, according to the National Institute on Aging
Prediabetes is a serious health condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have prediabetes—that’s 88 million people—but the majority of people don’t know they have it.
The good news is that by making small healthy lifestyle changes, it is possible to prevent type 2 diabetes and even reverse your prediabetes.
Making small changes to one’s lifestyle and daily habits can be hard, but in order to prevent prediabetes or diabetes, it is recommended to spend less time spent sitting and more time trying to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week, into your day.
Further, choosing healthier foods and drinks is a key preventative practice. Picking foods that are high in fiber and low in fat and sugar mean you can build a plate that includes a balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates. Drinking water instead of sweetened drinks is also recommended, the guidelines say.
Finally, and perhaps most difficult of all, especially as we age is losing weight and keeping it off. According to government guidelines, diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing 5 to 7 percent of your starting weight.
Everyone should be aware of the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, especially in older adults, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include feeling tired, increased hunger or thirst, losing weight without trying, urinating often, or having trouble with blurred vision. You may also get skin infections or heal slowly from cuts and bruises. Some people with type 2 diabetes may not realize they have it because symptoms often develop slowly and go unnoticed. Sometimes older adults dismiss these symptoms as “getting old,” but they can be signs of a serious problem.
Making a plan, tracking your progress, and getting support from your health care professional and loved ones can help you make the necessary lifestyle changes.