“Can I have another piece of cake?” asked Mr. Mehta to his son, who continuously stared at his father standing near the buffet table.
Many individuals must have faced this dilemma when they have parents with diabetes at home. The children wish they could say, “Eat to your heart’s content” but the concern for their health says, “No stop, you already had enough for the day.”
It is important to manage diabetes to lead a complication free life. By understanding how diabetes can be handled by making slight changes in your daily routine, you can handle the disease with confidence and the outcomes are better and complications are less.
However, when it comes to taking care of your older parents living with diabetes there may be many difficult moments. Team Medimanage advices a few lifestyle changes when put into practice can help them to maintain their sugar levels and prevent diabetic complications in the future.
Following a healthy diet plan is a basis of any diabetes management plan. Well known Nutritionist Patricia Sadri from DENMARC( Diabetes Endocrinology Nutrition Management and Research Centre) says “It is not just what you eat that alters your blood glucose levels but how much you eat and the intervals at what you eat also matters.”
What to do:
It is important to follow a fixed meal timing to enjoy better control over your sugar levels. Patricia Sadri explains, “Sugar level fluctuates in the body in response to the food that you eat. The body also gets used to a particular schedule that you follow and hence it responds differently with every change in schedule.”
Patricia says, “Eating a balanced diet is important for diabetics as it offers all macro nutrients and micro nutrients that your body requires. These nutrients facilitate in various functions in the body. A person suffering from diabetes is prone to major and minor complications and so most importantly, without a balanced diet the action of medications used for diabetes or their proper functioning is not justified i.e. they do not work as expected.”
It is important to have smaller portions of food at regular intervals to maintain a stable blood sugar level. Patricia explains, “If you eat too much of food at one time it becomes difficult to metabolize the food and the sugar levels increase rapidly. To have better control it is important to eat smaller portions of food frequently.”
Patricia adds, “Do not cook diabetic meals separately. It is important to remember that a diabetic diet pattern is in fact a healthy diet that each one of us should follow. Your parents would also relish having same meals at the dining table.”
Exercising is an important part for your diabetes management as regular physical activity improves your body’s responses to insulin. This in turn helps to lower your blood sugar levels. Older people can perform simple exercises like walking regularly.
Dr. Tejas Shah, well known Diabetologist and Endocrinologist from Holy Spirit hospital explains, “Exercise increases the insulin sensitivity and improves the action of insulin in the body. Secondly, regular exercise helps to maintain the ideal weight which is an important factor to regulate your blood sugar levels.”
What to do:
It is important to speak to your doctor before your parents start an exercise regime. Your health care practitioner will check the condition of their heart and feet and then recommend the right exercise that would suit their body rhythm.
It is important to check blood sugar levels frequently and be aware of the levels that are appropriate for them before they begin to exercise.
It is imperative to see that elder individuals drink plenty of water while performing any physical activity as dehydration can affect sugar levels.
Dr Tejas Shah says “Diabetics should never exercise on an empty stomach. While exercising the chances of blood sugar levels to drop is high hence it suggested that all diabetics should always carry a snack or juice that can be easily absorbed by the body. If you feel the symptoms of low blood sugar stop exercising and eat the snack.”
- Always carry some identification.
It is suggested that while exercising, diabetics (especially insulin dependent) should always carry something that identifies them as a diabetic as it helps at the time of an emergency.
If your parents are reluctant to exercise alone, you can join them for a walk in the garden. In this manner you are also exercising along without parents. Though it may sound difficult to convince your parents to exercise at an older age but with a little love and conviction, you can mould them the way you want.