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Steps to Help Manage Your Diabetes

More than 25 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. A large portion of this number are seniors, with 27 percent of individuals who are 65 or older having diabetes. With statistics this high and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increasing with age, this should be a concern for all seniors.

Diabetes can lead to such serious complications as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Fortunately, you can work with your doctor to develop a plan that will help you manage diabetes, or, if you don’t have it, avoiding it altogether. Exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet are a couple ways that will help you manage your diabetes. Another important piece of diabetes management is receiving regular screenings. These tests will help you and your doctor catch any issues early on and begin treatment.

These include the following:

  • Cholesterol Checkup: Blood tests will help monitor cholesterol and triglycerides. You should have this test twice a year.
  • A1C Test: This blood test monitors your average blood glucose level between the previous two to three months. You should have your A1C checked at least twice a year.
  • Kidney Function Test: Urine tests help ensure your kidneys are functioning correctly. Be sure to have this test once each year.
  • Retinal Eye Exam: This test, which is performed by an eye care specialist, helps to detect disease and prevent loss of vision. Make an appointment with your eye care specialist once a year.  

In addition to your doctor, create a “diabetes care team” by enlisting the help of a registered dietitian, diabetes educator and a family member or close friend. Managing diabetes will become easier if you surround yourself with supportive individuals. Your doctor is your best resource if you have any questions or concerns, but remember, your diabetes care team is there to help when you need it, too.

Dr. Judith Black is Medical Director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc. For more information about Highmark’s commitment to health and wellness, visit www.highmark.com.

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