Diabetes: The Silent Epidemic Affecting Seniors

Diabetes is a serious disease that affects a high number of seniors. If you are a senior, you may wonder, “What is diabetes? How do I know if I am at risk for diabetes, and how can I reduce that risk?” In this article, we will answer questions about senior diabetes and more. 

What is diabetes?

You are at risk for developing diabetes when your blood sugar, or blood glucose, is too high and your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insufficient insulin production causes too much glucose to stay in the blood, which causes serious health problems. 

Over time, diabetes can cause additional health problems like stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, and nerve damage that could lead to amputation. If you have diabetes, it is essential to manage your blood sugar or blood glucose levels appropriately. There are two main types of diabetes. 

Type 1 Diabetes

People who have type 1 diabetes do not make enough insulin. It usually begins in children and young adults and is lifelong. However, older adults can sometimes develop Type 1 diabetes. 

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. It most often affects middle-aged and older adults and occurs when the body does not make or use insulin well. Your chances of getting Type 2 diabetes increase if you are inactive, overweight, or have a family history of diabetes. 


Prediabetes is a stage before diabetes that affects millions of older Americans. It occurs when your glucose levels are higher than usual but not high enough to be considered diabetes. People with prediabetes are at a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a heart attack, or a stroke. 

If you have prediabetes, there are things you can do to reverse the condition or prevent or delay getting Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight, eating healthy, and being physically active are ways that you can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

You are also at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you smoke. If you are a smoker, seek support to quit smoking to reduce your risk of developing diabetes. 

Why are seniors at risk for diabetes?

Seniors are often at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. This increased risk is because of increasing insulin resistance due to aging combined with impaired pancreatic islet function. 

Many common symptoms of type 2 diabetes can go unnoticed among seniors. These include symptoms like: 

  • Feeling tired
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurring vision
  • Slower healing from cuts and bruises

If you experience any of the above symptoms, don’t dismiss them. Speak with your doctor about your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may use several blood tests to help diagnose diabetes. 

Reduce Your Risk of Diabetes

You can’t change certain factors that could put you at risk for senior diabetes, like your inherited genes or age. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can reduce your risk of developing this disease. These methods primarily involve making dietary and healthy lifestyle changes. 

  • Stay active and exercise regularly.
  • Limit foods that are high in carbs and sugar
  • Drink water more than other sugary drinks
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat more fiber

Diabetes is a silent epidemic that is affecting seniors at an alarming rate. Practicing these preventative measures can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improve your overall health. 

We Want to Help You!

At TGH Senior Center powered by Greenbrook Medical, we believe that every senior citizen should be cared for and treated with respect. That’s why we have made it our mission to provide the best possible care for our patients. Contact us today for a consultation or to request an appointment with one of our doctors!

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