7 Reasons Diabetes Develops in the Golden Years

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Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects nearly 10 percent of the population, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute on Aging points out that this condition, which is characterized by an inability to produce or respond to insulin and maintain proper blood sugar levels, is fairly common in seniors. But why do older adults develop diabetes? Here are seven possible reasons.

1. Genetic/Environmental Factors

Diabetes can be classified as type 1 or type 2. Type 1 diabetes is believed to be caused by genetic and environmental factors that might include viruses, although the exact cause isn’t known. Older adults with type 1 diabetes likely had this condition since childhood. Having a family history of diabetes can increase the risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The most common form of diabetes in seniors is type 2 diabetes, which is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.

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2. Excess Weight

One of most common reasons for seniors to develop type 2 diabetes is excess weight. Carrying around extra weight produces more fat (adipose) tissue. This extra fat tissue makes cells more resistant to insulin, which causes blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise.

3. A Sedentary Lifestyle

The less active seniors are, the more likely they are to develop diabetes. From regular walking to water-based exercises, there are many ways older adults can stay active enough to help their bodies sufficiently use blood sugar as energy.

4. Age-Related Changes

When adults get older, they tend to be less active, which contributes to weight gain. Also, the way the body turns food into energy (metabolism) slows down with age, which makes it more difficult to convert excess blood sugar into useful energy.

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5. Heart-Related Issues

Seniors with a history of heart disease or those who had a heart attack in the past tend to be more likely to develop diabetes, which is likely due to related damage to blood vessels and nerves that control the heart.

6. High Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association estimates that more than 100 million Americans have high blood pressure, and one in two adults 65 and older will develop what’s also referred to as hypertension. Specifically, blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg and higher is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes. Numbers of 120/80 mm Hg or lower are considered normal.

7. High “Bad” Cholesterol/Triglyceride Numbers

Older adults with lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, and higher levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) are more likely to develop diabetes. Triglycerides are a type of fat carried in blood. If these levels spike, seniors are also considered to be more at risk for developing issues with diabetes. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels can often be managed better with dietary changes and medication. 

Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Mesa seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. Contact Home Care Assistance today at (480) 699-4899 to find out how one of our dedicated, compassionate caregivers can help your loved one enjoy a high quality of life in the golden years.