It is not unusual for individuals with diabetes to have a difficult time managing their illness. Some people with diabetes rely primarily on insulin, others take oral medications, and some take both oral medications and insulin. For older adults, managing diabetes can be difficult, especially when there is no one to assist with medications and meal preparation. Managing diabetes requires a careful balance of keeping medical appointments, taking medications as prescribed, eating the right foods, and getting enough exercise.

It is essential for people with diabetes to keep medical appointments.

Adults who take insulin or oral medications must be followed by a health care provider to ensure that medications are working correctly. Keeping medical appointments allows the health care provider to keep track of how well a person is managing his or her condition. A test known as hemoglobin A1c is the standard in blood sugar management. A lab test can be ordered by a doctor or done in the office. The A1c test indicates whether a person’s blood sugar level has been within reasonable limits (for a person with diabetes) over a three-month period. A1c test results can let the healthcare provider know whether medications need to be adjusted or if there are other changes a person with diabetes can make such as getting more exercise.

It is vital for elderly diabetics to eat well.

Eating to manage blood sugar can be difficult for older adults, especially those who live alone. Older adults benefit from nutrient-dense foods, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. They should limit foods high in fat, salt, and sugar. A straightforward way older adults can eat healthier with diabetes is to fill half of the plate with vegetables, and one-quarter of the plate with lean protein and the other quarter with a healthy carbohydrate like brown rice. This is called the plate method and is a simple alternative to counting carbohydrates.

It is helpful for elderly diabetics to be physically active.

A senior who can walk, even for short distances, can reap benefits from walking a few minutes each day. Not only does walking help lower blood sugar, but it also burns calories and helps an individual maintain a healthy weight. Older adults who are unable to walk can engage in chair exercises in which they move the upper body and use hand weights for strength training. Like walking, chair exercise can help lower the blood sugar. When it comes to physical activity, consistency is the key. Older adults should aim for getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. To make it easier, 30 minutes of exercise may be divided into 10-minute increments over the course of a day.

These are some possible tips on how to maintain a healthy regimen as an older person with diabetes. Be sure to consult your doctor for more personalized advice and recommendations.