Diabetes is linked to additional serious health conditions
More than 25% of Americans over age 65 have diabetes. Complications of diabetes put seniors at higher risk of developing other serious medical conditions.
5 common health conditions seen at a much higher rate among seniors with diabetes include heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and increased risk of falling.
It’s important to be aware because early detection and treatment of these conditions can make a big difference in quality of life and treatment options.
We explain what diabetes is, why it causes additional health problems, and how to spot signs of 5 common complications of diabetes.
What is diabetes?
When someone has diabetes, the level of glucose in their blood (blood sugar) is too high. This can happen when the body doesn’t make enough insulin.
Insulin is what moves glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. When there isn’t enough insulin, glucose doesn’t get moved into the cells. Instead, it builds up in the blood and causes high blood sugar.
Untreated diabetes causes symptoms like extreme thirst or hunger, frequent need to urinate, and fatigue.
Why diabetes causes other health problems
Over time, high blood sugar seriously damages the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, gums, teeth, nerves, and blood vessels.
This leads to health conditions 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.
5 common health conditions from diabetes complications
1. Heart disease
Heart diseases are more likely to occur in seniors with diabetes. To find out about symptoms to watch for, ask your older adult’s doctor which type of heart disease they’d be more likely to develop based on their overall health.
Once you know which heart disease your older adult could potentially develop, you’ll be able to ask the doctor about symptoms to watch out for. If you spot any of those signs, you’ll know to contact the doctor right away.
2. Alzheimer’s and dementia
Alzheimer’s and dementia are twice as likely to occur in patients with diabetes.
If you notice unusual behavior or persistent memory or cognitive problems, have your older adult visit their doctor for a full evaluation as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and proper treatment will improve quality of life.
3. Falls and fractures
Diabetes and related conditions like gout can make getting around more difficult. That increases your older adult’s risk of falls and fractures.
Prevent falls by asking their doctor to regularly evaluate your senior’s fall risk and by making their home as fall-proof as possible.
4. Multiple medications
Diabetic seniors often take 6 or more prescription medications. Because so many medicines are being used at the same time, your older adult will be at higher risk for negative side effects and drug interactions.
Immediately report any negative side effects and regularly ask their doctor to do a comprehensive review of all medications and supplements.
5. Additional health complications of diabetes
Depression, vision or hearing impairments, and incontinence are additional medical conditions that are more likely to occur in people who have diabetes.
Be aware that these conditions may be related to diabetes. If you notice symptoms of any of these conditions, have your older adult visit the doctor right away.
Early detection and treatment of serious health conditions improves the ability to manage the disease and improves quality of life.
When you know which symptoms to watch for, you’re more likely to catch common diabetes complications before they become severe.
Recommended for you:
- 4 Tips for Managing Multiple Health Conditions
- 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor’s: Being a Health Advocate
- 10 Medications Seniors Should Avoid Taking
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Source: NIH Senior Health, American Diabetes Association & American Geriatrics Society
Image: Tri County Sentry