Diabetes in old age: causes, symptoms, treatmentAs long as diabetes mellitus is treated consistently, complications can be avoided. This involves recognizing the disease at an early stage. However, this is difficult in older people because it is hardly noticeable due to particular symptoms.
Diabetes mellitus – also known as diabetes – is a chronic metabolic disease in which blood glucose levels are permanently elevated.
The disease occurs in several forms, with type I and type II being the most common.
Older people are particularly often affected by type II diabetes, which is also known as adult-onset diabetes for this reason. Wohnen-im-Alter has the most important information about the disease diabetes. Above all, the form of adult-onset diabetes compiled in the guidebook.
Definition: What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus, colloquially known as diabetes, is a pathological disorder of the sugar metabolism with a permanently elevated blood sugar level (hyperglycemia).
In Germany alone, about 8 million people are affected, and the trend is rising. This is why diabetes is also referred to as a widespread disease. Especially in the western industrialized nations, diabetes is prevalent due to an unhealthy diet. Of the increasing lack of exercise increasingly a problem.
The most common forms of the disease are diabetes mellitus type I and type II. In addition, there is also a type III as well as the so-called gestational diabetes.
With age, the risk of developing diabetes also increases. Thus, older people in particular are affected by the disease. Therefore diabetes ranks among the typical age diseases.
Source: Robert Koch Institute (as of 2016)
Forms of diabetes
Diabetes occurs in various forms, each of which differs in cause, severity and treatment.
type I: About 5% of all diabetes patients are affected by type I diabetes. This form usually occurs in childhood or adolescence. Characterized by a deficiency of the body's own hormone insulin. The cause lies in a malfunction of the immune system, in which the cells responsible for the production of insulin in the pancreas of the diabetic are destroyed. This form of diabetes is not curable.
Type II: Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. About 90% of all diabetes patients suffer from this form. Unlike type I, type II is not a disease of the immune system, but is mainly due to lifestyle. Since more than half of all those affected are over 65 years of age, this form is also colloquially referred to as adult-onset diabetes.
Type III: Type III diabetes includes diseases that cannot be classified as either type I or type II. Possible causes can be damage to the pancreas (pancreopriver diabetes), genetic changes, hormonal causes as well as viral infections.
Special cases: In addition to diabetes types I-III, there are also the special cases of gestational diabetes and childhood diabetes.
Causes and risk factors of adult-onset diabetes
The cause of type II diabetes – also known as adult-onset diabetes – lies in a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is still produced by the body, but the body's cells no longer react optimally to it. In the beginning, there is still an overproduction of insulin until the pancreas is exhausted and insulin production is greatly reduced.
Unlike type I, type II diabetes is not due to an endogenous reaction, but is caused primarily by an unhealthy lifestyle.
Risk factors include an unbalanced, fatty diet, obesity and lack of exercise. All this leads to an increase in the glucose level in the blood, which promotes the development of diabetes type II.
A healthy lifestyle can prevent diabetes!
But the risk of developing the disease also increases with age, which is why type II diabetes is also referred to as adult-onset diabetes or adult-onset diabetes.
Furthermore, family predispositions can also play a role. If a close relative is a diabetic, the risk of developing the disease also increases for the relatives.
Symptoms of type II diabetes
Type II diabetes has a number of different symptoms. Many of these symptoms are at the same time also typical symptoms of old age. Are therefore often not recognized or recognized too late. Seniors often do not notice adult-onset diabetes until secondary diseases become apparent. The diagnosis of diabetes is made on the basis of a consultation with a doctor. Various examinations.
This also includes testing the blood glucose level, for example by measuring fasting blood glucose. This takes place after at least 8 hours without food.
Another examination option is the test of the HbA1c value, also called long-term glucose. This also takes place in the fasting state. Here, the senior affected must drink a larger amount of sugar. The blood glucose level is then measured at regular intervals. If body cannot cope with sugar, the suspected diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed.
Treatment of adult-onset diabetes
Treatment of diabetes can curb the disease and alleviate symptoms. At the same time, it helps to improve or at least maintain the quality of life of the senior affected.
Treatment measures include:
– Regular control of blood glucose levels – Medication – If necessary. Insulin injections – Healthy, balanced diet – Exercise – If applicable. Weight reduction
In summary, in addition to the medical aspects, it is primarily a matter of adapting one's lifestyle to the new circumstances. This includes first and foremost a healthy. A balanced diet and sufficient exercise. Various mobility-enhancing measures can also be taken in this context.
In the context of this, a reduction of sugary foods is also important. The less of it is consumed, the less insulin has to be supplied to the body from the outside.
An easily digestible and chewable mixed diet is optimal for diabetes. The exact form that the diet should take can be discussed with specialized diabetes nutritionists or the patient's own family doctor.
If overweight is the trigger of adult-onset diabetes, it should be reduced. For seniors in particular, however, it is important not to eat too little, so as not to deprive the body of important nutrients.
If diabetes type II is treated correctly, the disease can be contained or even cured!
Additional support for treatment and living with type II diabetes is also provided by the guidelines of the German Diabetes Association, which are also specially designed for older patients.
Further support can also be provided by specialized outpatient care services.
Risks and secondary diseases
If adult-onset diabetes is not treated or if it is under-treated, there is a risk of various secondary diseases and risks.
The greatest risk here is hypoglycemia, especially since symptoms such as trembling, dizziness and palpitations are often blamed on age by those affected. In addition, hypoglycemia makes the risk of accidents and falls increase and lowers brain power. In addition, it poses a danger to the heart, since low blood sugar means stress for the body, which causes blood prere and pulse rate to rise.
If diabetes is not treated for a long time, for example because it is not diagnosed in time, it can lead to consequential damage to organs such as the heart, kidneys or eyes. Loss of vision is also possible. Damage to the nerve tracts and a heart attack are also possible consequences.
In addition, diabetes type II has many symptoms that also indicate a possible dementia. If old-age diabetes is the cause of these symptoms, however, they can be remedied by proper blood glucose control.
Detect diabetes in time!
If diabetes is diagnosed too late, it can have serious effects on the entire body if it is not treated properly. Therefore, the disease should be diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
In seniors, the disease is not so easy to detect in many cases, as they often have high blood glucose levels for years. In addition, the symptoms are often not noticed, but are mistaken for signs of aging. Thus diabetes is noticed with many seniors only then, if the first indications of subsequent illnesses show up.
Therefore regular examinations of the blood sugar values are important with the physician.
The disease diabetes mellitus occurs in different forms. Seniors are particularly often affected by type II diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. In order to maintain one's own vitality and quality of life, blood glucose should be checked regularly so that the disease can be detected and treated in good time.