Previously, Type I diabetes was called juvenile diabetes, which becomes awkward when someone suffering from the condition is fifty, sixty, seventy, or older. Nevertheless, since insulin was first synthesized in the 1920s, generations of Type I diabetics have been able to live with the condition well into their senior years.
However, despite this and perhaps because of the wealth of information about Type II or adult-onset diabetes, Type I remains poorly understood, especially when it comes to older diabetics. Here are four facts to shed some light on the issue, presented by the Denton County senior care experts at Home Care Assistance:
- Insulin therapy is not optional. For a Type I diabetic, insulin injections or a pump are necessary. Simply put, a diabetic’s body produces no insulin, something that is required to utilize glucose (sugars/carbohydrates) from foods. No pill can replace it, although a good diet and active lifestyle can reduce the amount of insulin required daily.
- Low blood-sugar levels can be just as dangerous as high. Having a high blood-sugar level (BSL) is obviously bad, but low levels can have consequences too, including mental confusion, fainting, seizures, and coma. While these are the more threatening symptoms to health, irritability and light-headedness are common. Catastrophic lows in blood sugar are most often caused by too much insulin and/or too little food.
- Regular testing is critical to good health. For diabetics of either type, frequent BSL monitoring is linked to better health outcomes. The awareness allows diabetics to change insulin or food intake to keep BSL nearer to normal levels. A long-term test known as an A1c hemoglobin test measures blood-sugar control over an approximately three-month period. This can help indicate whether a diabetic is successfully managing his or her BSL and determine whether changes are needed in medication, diet, or activity levels.
- Complications are difficult to avoid in the long-term. Most Type I diabetics experience some degree of complications over the course of their lives, primarily because they live with the disease from an early age instead of being diagnosed later in life. In later years, working to minimize complications is key to ensuring quality of life. This includes regular vision care, managing neuropathy, and controlling blood pressure to protect the kidneys.
If your aging parent or loved one has Type I diabetes, it is important that they have the necessary support, especially as they enter into their senior and elder years. In addition to help from friends and family, you may want to consider the assistance of a professional Denton County hourly caregiver who can help monitor health and ensure safety, while helping with daily activities including cooking, personal care, medication reminders and transportation to medical appointments.
For more information about in-home care for senior diabetics, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Denton County today at 972-468-6010.