Advice Independent Living

Senior Living Can Help People with Diabetes Maintain a High Quality of Life as They Age

A senior man practicing physical therapy exercises

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 25% of adults 65 and older have diabetes. That’s over 12 million seniors.

Managing diabetes in the elderly

While the condition, in which the body doesn’t properly process food for use as energy, can have dire consequences for adults of all ages, seniors are at particularly high risk from diabetic complications. If diabetes in the elderly isn’t adequately managed, it can lead to serious health problems, from stroke and heart disease to kidney failure, hearing loss, blindness and nerve damage. Also, people with Type 2 diabetes may be at greater risk for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The American Diabetes Association reports that diabetes is the nation’s seventh-leading cause of death.

Benefits of living in a CCRC

Diabetes is a challenging condition to combat for anyone living with the condition. Fortunately for the many seniors who choose to live in a CCRC (continuing care retirement community), there are helpful resources available to educate and support those managing the disease. For instance, seniors with diabetes often find that eating healthier and exercising more can prove challenging. Those who move into a CCRC will likely benefit from the community’s increased focus on wellness and proper nutrition.

Nutrition Management

Communities generally provide support to ensure residents get the daily nutrients and healthy meals they need to meet their desired weight and blood-glucose goals. They often have specialized menus that cater to residents with diabetes. A diabetic diet for seniors should include carb-consistent options that still offer variety. The menus also need to include foods high in nutritional value and low in calories, such as fruits, whole grains, lean protein and vegetables.

Fitness and Wellness Programs

Along with proper nutrition, exercise is essential for helping those with diabetes maintain a healthy weight. According to the American Diabetes Association, physical activity promotes glycemic control, and can lessen strength and mobility issues associated with diabetes. People with diabetes need to have access to at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day to manage weight and increase their body’s sensitivity to insulin. Aerobic exercises available at most communities, such as dancing, walking, swimming and bicycling, also help keep blood glucose levels where they should be. Senior living communities often include on-site fitness centers along with staff-led fitness programs to improve independence, functionality, and quality of life.

Diabetes and aging

Treatments for diabetes rely on routine, careful monitoring and the necessity for self-administration of insulin therapy injections, so it can be hard to stay on top of the illness – especially as a person ages. In a CCRC, residents receive the help they need to maintain their regimen.

Assisted living and skilled nursing staffs are trained to help residents closely manage medications, regularly check blood sugar levels, monitor food intake and engage in daily exercise. They also make sure diabetic residents have regular eye exams, skin assessments and podiatrist visits to help prevent complications.

Support and education

Many senior living communities offer additional resources to help residents and their families better understand diabetes in elderly adults and how it affects health and well-being. The on-site medical providers explain how to monitor the disease and what to do when blood glucose levels aren’t where they should be. The staff educates residents on nutritional topics, helps them effectively communicate with their physicians, and promotes greater independence and quality of life. Some communities may even offer monthly educational classes that address daily diabetes-management issues such as healthy eating and exercise for a better life.

These services mean peace of mind for residents and their families. They allow new residents to join a CCRC with the confidence that a knowledgeable team will help them cope with their disease.

Learn more about LifeCare®  and how a senior living community with a full continuum of care can help you live a safe and fulfilling life with diabetes.

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