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According to the American Diabetes Association, more than fifteen million Americans, or 6% of the population, have diabetes.
Unfortunately, more than five million people are unaware that they have the disease, and most won’t find out until they develop one of its life-threatening complications such as blindness, kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy needed for daily life. There is no cure for diabetes, however, awareness and education are keys to continuing the fight. Diabetes and its complications can be successfully managed through medication, exercise and a healthful lifestyle.
There are two major types of diabetes and each varies in symptoms and treatment. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all cases and is the most severe form of the disease. People with type 1 diabetes must take daily insulin injections to stay alive because their pancreas is too damaged to produce enough insulin on its own. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1, accounting for 90-95% of all cases. This disorder results from the body’s inability to make enough, or properly use, insulin and almost half of all afflicted are unaware that they even have the disease. Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled through weight loss, improved diet and exercise.
Risk factors and warning signs also differ between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Usually, siblings and children of type 1 diabetes sufferers are at greater risk for developing the same form of the disease. Some warning signs for type 1 diabetes include: frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, fatigue and irritability. Type 2 diabetes most often afflicts people with the following characteristics:
- People over 45
- People who are overweight
- People who do not exercise regularly
- People with a family history of diabetes
- Women who had gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes occurring in 2-5% of all pregnancies), or who have had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
Warning signs for type 2 diabetes includes: any of the type 1 symptoms, frequent infections, blurred vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal and tingling/numbness in hands or feet. Often, people with type 2 diabetes have no physical symptoms.
The goal of treatment for both types of diabetes is to lower blood sugar levels and improve the body’s use of insulin by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising daily and testing blood sugar levels.
Approximately half of all diabetes cases occur in people older than 55 years of age. Consequently, people with diabetes represent 18% of all skilled nursing and rehabilitation center patients and that percentage will undoubtedly increase as the “baby boom” generation grows older. For more information about Diabetes, please contact the center nearest you or click here to find a facility near you.
HOME SAFETY FOR ADULTS
As we get older, ensuring our safety at home becomes increasingly more important. Poor eyesight and hearing can decrease awareness of hazards while impaired coordination and balance can result in trips and falls. These in-home trips and falls are the most common causes of serious injury for older adults, causing 6,700 deaths each year. Taking even a few precautionary measures can greatly reduce the risk of injury in the home. Here are some suggestions:
· Illuminate all stairways, and place light switches at both the bottom and top of stairs.
· Have handrails on both sides of the stairway.
· Use only carpet which is tacked down, get rid of throw rugs.
· Arrange furniture so there are no obstacles.
· Do not use your hallways or stairwells for storage.
· Use the grab bars on bathroom walls and non-skid mats or strips in the bathtub.
· Wear good shoes with non-skid soles.
· Keep outdoor steps and walkways in good repair and spread sand on icy walkways.
Electrical and Fire Safety
· Keep lamp, extension and telephone cords out of the flow of traffic and out from beneath furniture, rugs and carpeting.
· Electrical cords should be kept in good condition, no fraying or cracking.
· All outlets and switches should have cover plates, with no wiring exposed.
· Make sure towels, curtains and other flammable items are located away from the range.
· Wear clothes with short or close fitting sleeves when cooking.
· Unplug small appliances such as hair dryers, shavers, curling irons, etc. when not in use.
· Keep chimneys clear from accumulations of leaves, and other debris that can clog them.
· Smoke detectors should be properly located on each level of the home. The batteries should be checked annually and the detectors should be checked regularly.
· Have an emergency exit plan and an alternative emergency exit plan.
· Post emergency numbers on or near the telephone.
· Keep good, even lighting over the stove, sink and counter top work areas, especially where food is sliced or cut.
· Medicines should be stored in the containers they came in.
· Keep a telephone close to your bed, and have lamps and light switches within reach.
HEALTHY EATING - GETTING THE MOST OUT OF LIFE
A healthy diet is one step in looking good, feeling great, and being your best at work and play. It is never too late to start eating healthier, and even small changes can provide physical and mental benefits at any age. Good nutrition not only adds years to life, but life to years.
Actions You Can Take Now For Improved Nutrition
Choose more fiber rich foods. Fiber protects against intestinal problems, helps control blood glucose and lowers cholesterol. Foods rich in fiber include many whole grains, dry beans and peas, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Reduce sodium. Consuming too much sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure. To reduce sodium, you can limit processed meats, use fewer frozen or boxed dinners, rinse canned vegetables before cooking, limit the use of condiments and choose reduced- salt versions of foods.
Choose healthy fats. Fat is an essential nutrient to our diet, but too much saturated and trans fat can contribute to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Tips for including healthy fats in your diet include choosing low-fat and fat-free milk, eating lean meats and eating baked or broiled fish.
Increase your physical activity. Nutrition and physical activity for hand in hand. Engaging in physical activity and reducing sedentary activities helps to boost energy and promote health, psychological well-being and a health body weight. Before starting any exercise plan, make sure you consult your doctor to ensure that your plan is completely safe and beneficial to you.
Increase fluid consumption. As we age, thirst sensation diminishes, increasing your chances of dehydration. Make sure to drink at least 8 cups of fluid each day.
Healthy eating can help you to get the most out of life. Your individual needs and preferences determine your food choices however; you should try to actively pursue variety across all food groups for optimal nutrition. A healthy lifestyle is all about having a plan for change, making small, gradual changes and enjoying a healthier way of living.