Heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, eye problems, even amputation — these are all possible side effects of type 2 diabetes.

That’s why it’s so important for seniors to be informed of possible symptoms of type 2 diabetes and how to manage their diabetes if they’ve already been diagnosed. If you know the signs and symptoms, you can better manage the possible risks that come with diabetes.

For more information on risks, signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes in seniors, keep reading.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, especially for seniors. In fact, more than 1 of every 4 seniors living in America lives with type 2 diabetes.

This type of diabetes occurs when the body does not use insulin properly, creating an insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar levels can become too high.

While both types of diabetes can lead to serious health complications if not properly managed, type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed later in life, and seniors may be unsure how to handle it. Type 2 diabetes can be managed through a combination of lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medication.

Risks Of Type 2 Diabetes In Seniors

There are a number of risks associated with having diabetes that can have long-term effects on the entire body.

High blood sugar is harmful to the kidneys, nerves, eyes and blood pressure. It also puts a strain on the heart, which is being forced to work overtime, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.

High blood pressure from type 2 diabetes can also cause a decline in cognitive function. Dementia and memory loss have also been associated with type 2 diabetes, and the risk can increase with age.

For seniors with type 2 diabetes, decreased blood flow can cause a decreased mobility and weakness in arms and legs, increasing a senior’s risk for falls. Reduced blood flow can also make it harder for wounds to heal or cause them to not heal at all. As a result, tissue can be damaged or become infected which can make its way into the bone.

Early Signs of Prediabetes And Diabetes

While signs and symptoms present differently for everyone, there are a few common signs that a person may be approaching prediabetic levels or is already diabetic.

Remember, prediabetes does not mean that a person is diabetic. In fact, more than 1 in 3 Americans are prediabetic, and only 8 out of 10 of them are aware they have it. Prediabetes occurs when a person’s glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic.

In order to prevent your prediabetic levels from developing into type 2 diabetes, keep an eye out for these signs that a person is prediabetic or diabetic:

  1. Increase in thirst and urination: The increase in glucose levels caused by prediabetes or diabetes sends the kidneys into overdrive. This can cause a person to drink more water and urinate more frequently.
  2. Fatigue: When blood sugar levels are high, it’s harder for the body to convert glucose into energy. This can cause seniors to experience lethargic behavior or extreme fatigue.
  3. Slow healing sores: Due to the decreased circulation diabetes causes in the body, people notice that bruises or cuts tend to heal much slower than they used to. This symptom is especially serious because infected wounds can lead to infections in the bone and amputation. If you or your loved one have a wound on your hands or feet that won’t seem to heal, seek medical attention right away.
  4. Dizziness and/or fainting: Diabetes causes inconsistent levels of blood glucose. When those levels plummet, it can cause weakness, dizziness, shakiness, confusion and even fainting.
  5. Headaches: Our brain requires consistent delivery of glucose to function properly. When it isn’t receiving that energy due to diabetes or prediabetes, it can cause reoccurring headaches.
  6. Numbness in hands and feet: Roughly half of people with diabetes have nerve damage, especially those who have been diabetic for many years. This is due to the long-term decreased circulation in extremities. If you or your loved one is experiencing numbness, this could be a symptom of diabetes or prediabetes.
  7. Blurry vision: High blood glucose levels can draw fluid out of the eyes, making it difficult for them to focus and causing blurriness in vision.
  8. Increased appetite: Even when eating large meals, the body can still feel hunger due to glucose not entering our cells.
  9. Gum problems: Red, swollen and painful gums are common because diabetes can compromise your body’s immune system, increasing the likelihood of infection in your gums.
  10. Dry mouth: Dry mouth, cracked lips and a rough-feeling tongue, are common signs of diabetes and prediabetes because the body isn’t able to create a sufficient amount of saliva.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs and symptoms, contact a medical professional to be tested for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.