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Diabetes can impact your brain, not just your blood

Thursday, April 7 2016 3:23 AM

The statistics are alarming. Twenty-five percent of people over age 60 have diabetes.

Many people think of diabetes as a disease that primarily affects the blood, but studies have shown that seniors with diabetes may experience greater cognitive impairment than their peers who do not have the disease.

During a severe episode of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, neurons and other brain cells may die, say researchers at the University of California – San Francisco.


Other studies have shown that older adults with Type 1 diabetes may be more likely to develop dementia than people who do not have diabetes.

Furthermore, symptoms like dizziness, blurred vision and numbness in the feet can put seniors with diabetes at greater risk for falls.

But this disease doesn’t have to negatively impact the way you age. Consider these tips:

  • Check your blood sugar, as needed.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about how other medications might be affecting your health, diet and activity levels, which can impact your diabetes.
  • Get moving for at least 30 minutes a day by enjoying your favorite activity, whether it is golf, bowling or just walking with friends.
  • Lose weight and stop smoking, as attending to both factors can help prevent and manage this condition.
  • Carry a list of medications in your wallet or purse, so you can access them immediately if needed. If you faint or become ill because of your glucose levels, this list can help others around you understand what to do or how to help.
  • Begin a diabetes self-management program. These programs typically focus on ways to balance nutrition, education and emotional health as you monitor your condition. Learn more from your healthcare provider, or click here for information from the American Diabetes Association.

If you don’t have diabetes but think you might be a candidate,educate yourself. Recognize the symptoms. In addition to those listed above, you might experience blurred vision, lethargy, slow-healing cuts and bruises, numbness in your hands and an increase in thirst or the need to urinate.

Other resources

Related articles:


Tips and tools to help you eat well with diabetes

If you have diabetes, you know healthy eating is a big part of controlling the disease. If it proves difficult to put that knowledge where your mouth is, there are ways to incorporate nutritious meals into your diet. Click here to learn more.

What key points do I need to know about diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, simply referred to as diabetes, is a set of diseases that develop when the body is unable to use sugar effectively. Diabetes is especially concerning for seniors, who face a greater risk of falls, hospitalization or death because of the disease. Click here to read more.

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