Warning Signs for Diabetes

Concerned about the health of someone close to you? Recently, I spoke with Danine Fruge, MD, Associate Medical Director of Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, and expert at Women’s Health magazine. Here are her answers about the leading warning signs for diabetes.

What are some of the warning signs for seniors regarding diabetes?

“Two of the biggest warnings signs of diabetes in seniors are excessive thirst and frequent urination,” said Fruge. “Mental fogginess or brain fog can also be a warning sign for diabetes.”

Fruge explained that this can sometimes go unnoticed, since many adults may contribute mental fog to age. Additionally, Fruge emphasized other warning signs including irritable mood or nausea, which could signal evidence of a change in blood sugar.

Other warning signs include wounds that don’t heal, as well as frequent illness. “High blood sugar tends to weaken the immune system,” said Fruge. “If a senior is continually getting sick, or has trouble treating her wounds due to infection, this may mean diabetes.”

What kinds of exercises can seniors do to reduce the effects of diabetes?

Even if you’re in an active lifestyle, Fruge says one of the essentials seniors should do is check their blood sugar before, during, and after an exercise.

They need to understand their blood sugar levels, as exercise will cause a blood sugar lowering effect. “This is important because they will need to learn how to monitor their medicine, and know how much they should be taking when they want to exercise,” said Fruge. “If their blood sugar becomes too low, they may experience nausea, or even pass out.”

“Cardio is the most effective way to lower your blood sugar levels, however at Pritikin, we also suggest resistance training with light hand weights or weight machines, and light stretching like Pilates or yoga,” said Fruge.

What medications interfere with diabetes? Are there any side effects that could play a role in diabetes medication?

Medications can interfere with diabetes. Fruge shed light on the type of medications that could play a role, such as medical steroids.

“Seniors sometimes suffer from diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or asthma and are prescribed steroids in order to keep their joints and lungs strong,” said Fruge. “Unfortunately, steroids can also shoot up a person’s blood pressure, and if someone is already at risk of developing diabetes, this may be the catalyst to developing the disease.”

Fruge stressed that a senior that is diagnosed with diabetes should understand the symptoms of low blood sugar. “Diabetes is the inability of the body to control blood sugar levels,” said Fruge. “The goal of medication is to have a normal blood sugar range, and if your blood sugar becomes too low, it is possible to slip into a coma.” Fruge clarified that seniors should understand how to treat low blood sugar, or if they have certain symptoms such as shakiness or a light-headed feeling.

What are some risk factors that raise a senior’s chance of diabetes?

According to Fruge, risk factors for diabetes can include a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. She adds,“Genetics can also play a role in developing diabetes, but it is possible for someone who may have a family history of diabetes to reduce his or her risk with a healthy lifestyle.”

What can the sandwich generation (parents who take care of aging parents) do to help a parent with diabetes?

Fruge says that it’s necessary for grown children to stay involved in their parents’ lives. “Simple things like helping them to remember to take their medication and check their blood sugar can be very helpful,” said Fruge. “Some seniors don’t feel comfortable pricking their own finger, and it can be helpful to do it for them if they don’t want to do it themselves.”

Adults should remember to act as an advocate in the treatment of aging parents. Fruge recommends driving them to a doctor’s appointment, or acting as a buddy for emotional support.

To learn more about Dr. Danine Fruge or the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, visit their website.

Source: Stacy Lipson is a freelance writer for national and regional publications. She specializes in health, wellness, and green living. Follow her on Twitter @stacylipson.