Diabetes and Older People (cont.)
Medical tests will show if diabetes is causing your problems. A doctor can diagnose diabetes by reviewing your symptoms and checking your blood glucose levels. One test (fasting plasma glucose test) measures your blood glucose level after eating or drinking nothing (fasting) for at least 8 hours, usually overnight. In another test, called the oral glucose tolerance test, your blood glucose is checked and then you drink a sugary beverage. Your blood glucose (sugar) levels are then checked 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours later. Diagnosis is confirmed after a repeat test on a different day.
Research shows that some increase in blood glucose levels often comes with age. This may be caused by weight gain, especially when fat builds up around the waist.
There are things you can do to take control of your diabetes.
What else can you do?
Eye Exams. People with diabetes should have an eye exam every year. Finding and treating eye problems early can help prevent more serious conditions later on.
Kidney Check. A yearly urine test for a protein called albumin will show whether your kidneys are affected by diabetes.
Foot Care. Diabetes can reduce blood supply to arms and legs and cause numbness in the feet. People with diabetes should check their feet every day and watch for any redness or patches of heat. Sores, blisters, breaks in the skin, infections, or build-up of calluses should be checked right away by a doctor specializing in foot care (podiatrist) or a family doctor.
Skin Care. People with diabetes can protect their skin by keeping it clean, using skin softeners to treat dryness, and taking care of minor cuts and bruises to prevent infections and other problems.
Care of Teeth and Gums. Working closely with a dentist is very important. Teeth and gums need special attention to avoid serious infections.
Flu Shots and Pneumonia Vaccine. Getting a yearly flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine at least once will help keep people with diabetes healthy. If 5 years or more have passed since your pneumonia shot, ask your doctor if you should be revaccinated.
People with diabetes who are on Medicare now receive coverage for supplies such as glucose monitors, test strips, and lancets. For more information about what is covered, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
The following organizations offer a wealth of information, as well as free or low-cost resources for people with diabetes, health care professionals, and the general public.
National Diabetes Education Program
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC)
Source: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging
Last Editorial Review: 3/20/2006