Treatment For Seniors With Type 2 Diabetes
Your type 2 diabetes treatment plan is just that — yours.
Because every person’s experience, symptoms and lifestyle look different, so will treatment for their type 2 diabetes. For example, if you have prediabetes, meaning your blood sugar levels are nearing but not yet at diabetic rate, your blood sugar levels may be able to return to normal without medication intervention.
Whatever your situation, here are a few of the top recommended lifestyle and medical treatment plans for a senior with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
Exercise For Seniors With Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that seniors participate in 30 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days a week. That’s a total of 150 minutes of exercise each week.
Exercise will have a direct positive impact on stabilizing blood sugar levels, which is why it’s so important for seniors with type 2 diabetes to stay active. In order to create an exercise plan that works for you, choose exercises and activities that you enjoy.
Aerobic exercises are recommended, exercises that use large groups of muscles, specifically in your legs. It’s a good thing that there are several types of aerobic exercises for seniors that you can choose from, including:
Dieting For Seniors With Type 2 Diabetes
Unfortunately, there is no single “diabetes diet” that will automatically get the body back to regular blood sugar levels. Everyone’s body responds to food differently, so it is important to follow the guidance of your doctor on what your diet should look like post-diagnosis.
Typically, a diet for a senior with type 2 diabetes will have a focus on one or more of the following:
- A consistent and regular schedule for meals and snacks.
- Smaller portion sizes.
- More high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Fewer refined grains, starchy vegetables and sweets.
- Modest servings of low-fat dairy, low-fat meats and fish.
- Healthy cooking oils, such as olive oil or canola oil.
- A lower caloric intake.
If you’re struggling choosing what types of food or how much to eat to manage your diabetes, consider the diabetes plate method.
The diabetes plate method is a simple, visual way to make sure you are getting enough vegetables and protein while limiting the number of high-carb foods you eat — because these carbs have the highest impact on your blood sugar.
Imagine a 9-inch dinner plate. Half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables (like a salad, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or carrots); one quarter should have a lean protein (like chicken, turkey, beans, tofu, or eggs); one quarter should have foods high in carbs (like grains, potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, fruit, yogurt, or a glass of milk). It’s best to choose water or a low-calorie drink like unsweetened iced tea to pair with your meal.
Managing Seniors’ Type 2 Diabetes With Medications
If exercise and diet are not bringing glucose levels to where they should be, that is when medication intervention will be incorporated into your type 2 diabetes treatment plan.
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best medication as they all have different avenues to lower the blood sugar levels of the body.
Some types of medication that your doctor can try include:
- Medications that encourage the pancreas to make and release more insulin.
- Medications that limit the liver’s ability to make and release sugar.
- Medications that block the action of enzymes in the intestines that break down carbohydrates, slowing how quickly cells take in carbohydrates.
- Medications that will support improving cells’ sensitivity to insulin.
- Medications that limit the kidneys’ ability to take in sugar, which increases the amount of sugar that leaves the body in urine.
- Medications that slow the process of how quickly food moves through the stomach.
In addition to taking your medications regularly, it’s important to also stay on top of your blood glucose levels.
Your doctor may recommend a device called a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Or you can test your blood sugar at home with a portable electronic device called a blood sugar meter using a small drop of your blood.