Health Info & Resources for Seniors
Learn More about Diabetes in November: National Diabetes Month
Decreased energy, blurred vision and the need for frequent trips to the bathroom can occur as you get older. But, these symptoms could also signal that you have a potentially life-threatening disease: type 2 diabetes. Bankim Bhatt, MD, Chief of Endocrinology, St. Luke’s University Health Network, said about one in four people are unaware that they have diabetes – the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Your risk of developing the disease increases as you age. By age 65, one in four people have diabetes.
“You can improve your quality of life – and even add years to your life – by learning more about diabetes,” he said. “By making smart lifestyle choices, you can reduce your risk, or if you already have diabetes, learn to manage the illness so you can lower the likelihood that you will develop serious complications.”
Other symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss, slow-healing sores, frequent infections and areas of darkened skin. If you have one or more of these symptoms, Dr. Bhatt suggests you see your doctor for testing and learn more about diabetes.
“Furthermore, many people are unaware of the connection between diabetes and heart disease,” he said. “In fact, if you have diabetes you are four times more likely to develop heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country.” St. Luke’s is working with Boehringer Ingelheim/Lilly to increase awareness of the connection. For more information, visit sluhn.org/ForYourSweetHeart.
Other complications of diabetes include:
• Nerve damage (neuropathy)
• Kidney damage
• Eye damage that can lead to blindness
• Foot damage that can lead to amputation
“There is no magic pill that cures type 2 diabetes,” Dr. Bhatt said. “But by making healthier choices such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a mostly plant-based diet and exercising regularly, most people can prevent it. Even patients already diagnosed with the illness will feel better, reduce their risk for complications and decrease their reliance on costly medications by adopting a healthy lifestyle.”