ASK PETER: All You Would Like to Know About Senior Care, Dementia, and Alzheimer's Care

Do you have prediabetes?

By Peter DiMaria

More than one-third of all American adults have prediabetes — a serious health condition that many times leads to type 2 diabetes and other dangerous health problems such as heart attack, blindness, or stroke. People with prediabetes have blood sugar levels higher than normal, approaching the levels to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

According to a new report by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), nearly 90 percent of the 84 million people with prediabetes don’t know they have it and aren’t aware of the long-term risks it poses to their health. About 30 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in every 4 of them are unaware of it. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Adults living with diabetes have a 50 percent higher risk of death than those who do not have it.

Knowing if an older adult has diabetes or prediabetes is essential when planning home care services for the elderly. 

Here are a few questions to ask your loved ones to assess the risk of prediabetes:

  • Are you a man or a woman?

Men are more likely than women to have undiagnosed diabetes. Recent studies show that men develop diabetes at a lower degree of obesity than women. Therefore, a sedentary lifestyle has a higher impact in men’s susceptibility of developing the disease. Another reason could be that men are less likely to see their doctor regularly.

  • Do you have a mother, father, sister or brother with diabetes?

A family history of diabetes could contribute to the risk for type 2 diabetes. Most people with type 2 diabetes have a direct family member - such as a mother, father, brother, or sister - with the disease. It may be difficult to determine whether lifestyle factors or genetic susceptibilities are the cause of someone’s diabetes or prediabetes. Most likely it is both.

  • Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?

Having high blood pressure contributes to your overall risk for type 2 diabetes. About 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure. Having diabetes raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other health problems. Having high blood pressure also increases this risk.

  • Are you over 40 years old?

You are at a higher risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes the older you are. According to the CDC, over 1.2 million people over 45 years old developed diabetes in 2012 alone.

  • Are you physically active?

Being inactive can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. People vary in the amount of physical activity needed for weight control. Most adults are able to keep weight stable by doing two and a half to five hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

  • Are you overweight?

There is a direct relation between your body mass index and the risk for type 2 diabetes. Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. BMI is calculated by dividing the body mass by the square of the height.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 85.2 percent of diabetes patients are either overweight or obese.

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According to the CDC, if you answered affirmatively to one or more of the questions above, you are at risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. The more affirmative answers, the higher the risk. To know if you have it you should talk to your doctor and have your blood tested.

Knowing if you have prediabetes is crucial because you can prevent it from turning into type 2 diabetes.

When thinking about home care for the elderly in their own homes, do include some degree of daily physical activity in the care plan. 

Some things, like your age or your family history, you can't change. But being aware of them can help you take smart steps to lower your risk, by making changes in your diet and adopting a more active lifestyle.

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