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Myths About Diabetes and Seniors

There are many myths surrounding diabetes. The following are some of the most popular skepticisms when it comes to seniors and the disease.

Myth: Seniors are not at risk for developing diabetes.

Truth: The risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age. In fact, about one in four people over the age of 60 in the United States have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Taking the proper precautions such as exercising regularly, making healthy food choices and receiving regular screenings will help to reduce a senior’s risk for developing diabetes.

Myth: Diabetes is not a serious illness.

Truth: When you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make enough insulin or use it well, leading to high blood glucose which can cause problems like eye, kidney, nerve and foot disorders. Diabetes can also lead to other serious complications like heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Early detection and treatment can decrease the risk of developing complications from diabetes.

Myth: You should only be tested for diabetes if you’re experiencing symptoms.

Truth: Some people with type 2 diabetes may experience symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed. Common symptoms may include frequent urination, extreme fatigue, feeling very thirsty, blurry vision and tingling or numbness in hands and feet. Regular screenings, including those that test your cholesterol, A1C, kidney function and vision, can help you and your doctor catch any issues early on and begin treatment.

Myth: There’s nothing you can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Truth: While there is no cure for diabetes, the good news is that it can be managed, or even prevented, through lifestyle modifications so that you can live a healthier and longer life. Getting regular screenings, exercising five days a week for at least 30 minutes, and eating a well-balanced diet are a few ways that you can prevent or manage your diabetes.

Talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors for the disease and the steps you can take to manage or prevent type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Marylou Buyse is senior medical director of senior markets for Highmark Inc.

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