For The Mature Population
Ways to Avoid Complications From Diabetes
Getting your blood sugar under control is very important, but there is more to living a healthy life without complications. Some of the complications that can come with poor diabetes management can disrupt daily lifestyle and may even be life-threatening. It is worth it in the long run to take control of your diabetes so you can be able to live the life you want. The more you know about diabetes, the more confident you will become in taking care of yourself. We are going to look at some of the ways you can do that.
1. What should your blood sugar levels be?
- Your blood sugar should be in the range of 90-130 mg/dl.
- Your blood sugar should be less than 180 mg/dl after eating.
- Have an A1c test done at least twice a year. This test gives your doctor a good look
at what your blood sugar levels are over time.
- You want your A1c to be 7%, or under. That means your diabetes is under good
- This is the best way to prevent diabetes complications.
2. Eat a healthy diet.
- Eat a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and whole grains.
- Keep carbohydrates in your diet. Carbohydrates are sweets like cookies, breads,
pastas, rice, fruits and fruit juices, milk and yogurt. You need the sugars in them
for brain function and energy. When you eat carbohydrates you just need to limit
the amount in each meal. A serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams. That is, for
example, one small banana, one slice of bread, or half a cup of mashed potatoes.
You need about eight 15 gram servings of carbohydrates each day.
- You can find out how many carbohydrate serving are good for your blood sugar at
each meal by testing your level before you eat, then test again 2 hours after you
eat. At this 2 hour test, your blood sugar should be less than 50 points higher than
it was before you ate. If it is more than 50 points higher, try less carbohydrate
servings at each meal.
- Whole grains, fruits and dairy are better carbohydrate choices than sweets.
3. Be active every day.
- Getting some type of exercise every day can help to keep your blood sugar levels
in a good range.
- Exercise can help reduce stress. Stress releases hormones in your body that cause
blood sugar to go up.
- Any type of exercise helps. Do what you are able to safely do. You can walk or
weight lift cans of vegetables while you sit in a chai. Even doing house work is
4. People with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure and high
cholesterol. This can also effect your diabetes.
- Work with your doctor to control these.
5. Check your feet frequently.
- Having diabetes can cause your nerves and blood vessels to become damaged.
This can cause you to have pain and loss of feeling. This is called peripheral
neuropathy. The damage to blood vessels can cause decreased blood flow and
slower wound healing. These things increase your risk for foot infections and
- Wear shoes and socks that fit well.
- Cut toenails frequently and carefully.
- Tell your doctor about any signs of infection or a cut or sore that doesn't heal.
5. See your eye doctor regularly.
- Diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in your eyes. This is called diabetic
retinopathy. You may notice poor vision with this. It can be treated if caught
early and you work to keep your blood sugar under good control, It may lead to
blindness if not found or taken care of properly.
6. If you smoke, quit.
- Smoking can make you more likely to have heart, kidney, and nerve damage.
Diabetes also contributes to these problems. So if you smoke and have diabetes,
you have much higher risks of these problems.
7. Also know the signs of low blood sugar and what to do.
- Low blood sugar can cause sweating, dizziness (which could lead to falls), confusion, irritability, hunger, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, and heart palpitations. If blood sugar gets really low, it can cause seizures and loss of consciousness.
- You should carry testing supplies at all times and glucose gel or tablets or hard candy in case of low blood sugar. You can also drink 4 oz. of juice or regular soda, or eat 1 tablespoon of sugar, honey, or corn syrup.
- It is important to speak with your doctor about when to treat low blood sugar.
The best source of help for controlling your diabetes is your doctor. He or she will work with you to find the best treatments, refer you to diabetes education classes, and do the appropriate testing. You can help yourself and your doctor by keeping track of what you eat and how it effects your blood sugar, and by taking your prescribed medications on time and in the right doses. If you need help finding a doctor, you can contact a hospital referral line or contact your community health center.
Barriers to glycemic self-control
1. Lack of knowledge of a diet plan
- If you have questions, ASK! If a food or beverage is in question regarding your diet plan, consult someone who can answer your question. This could be a healthcare provider or a dependable website on the Internet. Make sure you understand the diet that you are to adhere to before leaving your HCP.
2. Lack of understanding of the care plan
- Once again, ask someone or do research regarding the care plan of self-management of diabetes. Discussing it and providing evidence that you understand the plan is key to success in managing diabetes.
3. Helplessness and frustration from lack of glycemic control
- Don't get discouraged if your sugar levels are perfectly managed. It is a process that takes time to develop and recognize signs of hypo- or hyperglycemia. Seek help from a support group or friends if there are feelings of helplessness in controlling glucose levels
4. Continued disease progression despite adherence to care plan
- No matter how closely you follow your care plan and diet, there will be bumps in the road. The disease may not be completely cured, but following the care plan can improve overall health and can slow the progression (Nagelkerk, 2006).
Mooradian, A. (2015) Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Diabetes Mellitus in Elderly Nursing Home Patients A Survey of Clinical Characteristics and Management. 36(5) 391-396