If you’re a senior with diabetes, you’re not alone. The statistics are eye opening — more than 25% of Americans age 65 and older have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports diabetes as the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
If you’re a senior and have diabetes or help care for a loved one with diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions. Thankfully, technology has advanced incredibly over the last decade, and can now change how people manage diabetes for the better.
Building a strong relationship with your doctor is one of the best things you can do to help manage your diabetes and stay healthy. Be sure to keep an open dialogue and come with questions before any appointments. To get you started, here are three important questions you should ask your doctor.
1) What is continuous glucose monitoring and how can it help me?
People with diabetes who take insulin must monitor their blood glucose levels frequently. Uncontrolled glucose can cause health complications and even death. The traditional standard-of-care for glucose monitoring has been a blood glucose meter, which is painful and time consuming, as patients must test their blood multiple times throughout the day.
A continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system can help people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to track glucose levels on a continuous basis. Unlike blood glucose meters, CGMs can help eliminate painful fingerpricks and provide vital health information. CGMs are discreet, easy to use and relay a user’s glucose levels instantly to a compatible smart device or dedicated receiver, providing the direction and rate of glucose change with the touch or scan of a screen. They can help you understand the impact of physical activity and certain foods on your health and glucose levels, as well. The Dexcom G6 CGM, which is reimbursed by Medicare for eligible patients, also has an app option that gives patients the ability to share glucose information with up to 10 people who can view it through a separate Follow app.
2) How can I be more active?
Regular exercise is important for everyone, but it’s particularly important for people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, your cells become more sensitive to insulin when you’re active, so it works more effectively. Being active helps manage a healthy weight, which is also important.
You may think that due to your age or physical ability you can’t exercise, but talking to a physician can reveal options that fit your personal needs. Slow walks, stretching, yoga and even swimming are good, low-impact activities. Check community centers and local gyms for classes that are geared toward seniors. When beginning an exercise regimen, talk to your doctor to discuss any concerns you have and get his or her recommendations on what will work best for you in order to exercise in a safe manner.
3) How can I eat healthier?
Following a nutrition plan is an important part of managing diabetes. Patients with diabetes have extra nutritional considerations to keep insulin levels in check. Doctors can provide insight into healthy eating and explain how carbohydrates impact blood glucose levels.
You can also consider speaking with a registered dietitian to help you evaluate your eating habits and create a nutrition plan with foods you enjoy that are also complementary to a healthy diabetes lifestyle.
Let these questions help guide you to a productive conversation about diabetes with your doctors and other members of your health care team. To learn more about the Dexcom G6 real-time CGM, visit www.dexcom.com/continuous-glucose-monitoring.