Managing Your Diabetes

A Guide For the Older Adult

Information Provided By: Alicia Ketterer & Luiza Takeute

Getting Control Over Your Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease which, according to the American Diabetes Association on Older Adults,affects about 25% of Americans who are over the age 60. This disease has a great affect on the older population specifically by impacting their functional abilities, hospitalization rates and longevity. To live a longer, healthier life with this disease, blood sugar levels should be appropriately controlled.

General Information Concerning Diabetes In the Older Adult

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is defined as having blood sugar levels above normal.

Symptoms of diabetes may include:
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme hunger
  • Feeling very tired much of the time

There are multiple types of diabetes with the most common being:

  • Type I
  • Type II

Treatment includes:

  • Healthy eating
  • Physical activity
  • Insulin injections (Type I, sometimes Type II)
  • Daily glucose monitoring

Risk Factors:

  • Being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Race/ethnicity (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are at a higher risk)
Diabetes Information for Older Adults

Common Obsticles in Managing Diabetes

There are many barriers older adults may have which impact their health, specifically concerning management of their diabetes. According to the International Journal of Clinical Practice, in their article, "Overcoming Barriers to Diabetes Control In Geriatrics," by E. I. Hammounda, common barriers may include some of the following:

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Financial issues
  • Having two or more diseases
  • Lack of family support
  • Communication difficulties
  • Poor self motivation
  • Difficulty setting priorities
  • Emotional issues
Diabetes 101 - American Diabetes Association

To view a brochure with more information regarding diabetes in older adults, provided by the American Diabetes Association, click the link above

How to Overcome Barriers in Managing Your Diabetes

  • Attend diabetes education classes regularly

  • Don't be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS, or state CONCERNS, when discussing your diabetes with a healthcare professional

  • Your healthcare provider should be creating the most accurate list of your most current medications every time you go to see him or her. This ensures that your medications are always up to date and you become more knowledgeable about how your medications may be affecting your blood sugar.

  • Contact a case manager to help with financial concerns, or other issues, such as: lack of social/family support, lack of accessibility to services, and poor self-motivation.
Big image


  • Managing your diabetes has many benefits for your health. Eating a diabetic diet can help decrease your risk for cardiac diseases. Also, exercising can decrease your risk of high blood pressure.

  • It is very important to find what motivates you and use that when planning for your management of diabetes. Finding a support system to keep you in track, creating a reward system, or setting appropriate goals are some ways to stay motivated to managing your diabetes.

  • Education about the disease is also a great way to keep your self on track to managing diabetes. Getting to know how the disease affects your body and how treatment works can help you get a better understanding of what is going on in your body. Knowing how important blood sugar levels are to your health can motivate you to continue managing your diabetes.

  • Remember that your blood glucose numbers are not a grade. If you get a glucose level that is low or high, it is important to not feel like you've "gotten a bad grade". Use the numbers to be proactive and get back to where you want to be. Whether that be eating a snack to raise your blood sugar, or taking a walk when your blood sugar is a little bit high.

“When your glucoses are in target, take credit. When your glucoses are out of range, blame the diabetes and vow to make better choices tomorrow.” -Dr. Howard Wolpert

Big image

Action steps - Simple Steps Towards Taking Control of Your Own Health

Managing your health can become difficult, especially if you are trying to control your blood sugar. However, there are some simple steps you can take in order to better deal with diabetes and improve your health.

  • One of the most important steps in living with diabetes in making sure to check blood sugar levels throughout the day. It is vital to make sure that your blood sugar is within the proper level in order to prevent harmful effects. An easy way to remind yourself to check your blood sugar is to set an alarm. This is an easy step that can help you keep track of your blood sugar. Along with checking your blood sugar, it is very important to keep up with medication administration. Having a clearly marked pill box for each day is an easy way to organize your medication and decrease confusion.

  • Making sure to keep up with nutrition is also very important to living a healthy life with diabetes. There are many resources that offer delicious recipes that are also diabetes friendly. Here is a link to some recipes that are easy to make and good for your health!

  • When talking about nutrition, it is always important to keep hydration in mind as well. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. You should drink around 8 cups of water daily in order to keep your body hydrated. Even if you do not feel thirsty, it is important to drink water in order to prevent dehydration which can be detrimental especially when paired with diabetes.

  • A big step in managing diabetes as well as keeping your body healthy is to make sure that keep your body moving! According to the American Geriatrics Society, it is recommended to engage in physical activity at least 3 days a week. Having a consistent exercise routine can help increase muscle strength, decrease body fat, and improve glucose tolerance. When starting a new exercise routine it is important to start slow. A simple daily walk can make a difference!

  • ASK QUESTIONS! If you feel confused or unsure about anything relating to your health, it is absolutely vital to ask questions to your health care provider. Whether that be your doctor, nurse, or any other health care staff, asking questions and clarifying information can help you become more confident and aware of how to manage your diabetes. This includes questions about medication dosage, medical concerns, problems with administrating medications or insulin, and anything else you feel confused about.
Managing Diabetes in Older Adults

Community Resources

There are many resources that can be used when managing diabetes as an older adult. Listed below are some helpful website links that can further help educate and give more ways to manage and live with diabetes.
  • This link gives information and ways to manage diabetes.
  • This link gives information about an interactive workshop to help learn more about diabetes as well as in depth discussion on nutrition, exercise, treatment options, and much more. This workshop is offered online and the participants will get weekly sessions for six weeks. This workshop is focused on creating a personal step-by-step plan from trained volunteers.
  • This last link offers in depth information on Medicare coverage for diabetes. This includes information on supplies and services available based on your coverage plan.


American Geriatrics Society Expert Panel on the Care of Older Adults with Diabetes Mellitus (2013), Guidelines Abstracted from the American Geriatrics Society Guidelines for Improving the Care of Older Adults with Diabetes Mellitus: 2013 Update. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61: 2020–2026. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12514

Basics About Diabetes. (2015). Retrieved February 09, 2016, from

Better Choices, Better Health (n.d.). In Stanford Chronic Disease Self Management Program. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from

Diabetes Information for Older Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved February 07, 2016, from

Diabetes In Older People—A Disease You Can Manage (2012, September). In National Institute on Aging. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from
Managing Diabetes in Older Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved February 07, 2016, from

Eliopoulos, C. (n.d.). Gerontological Nursing (8th ed., pp. 376-383). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Hammouda, E. (2011). Overcoming barriers to diabetes control in geriatrics. International Journal Of Clinical Practice, 65(4), 420-424 5p. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2010.02599.x

Learning Diabetes Willpower and Motivation | Diabetes Daily Post. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2016, from

Older Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved February 09, 2016, from

Motivation Monday - Love your Diabetes. (2015). Retrieved February 09, 2016, from

Recipes for Healthy Living (n.d.). In American Diabetes Association. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from