Diabetes is associated with a range of complications, including nerve damage, heart disease, kidney failure, amputation, stroke and more. Now, researchers have found another complication of diabetes — bone fractures.
Bone fractures are a serious concern for the elderly. They can result in a loss of mobility, blood loss, tissue damage and more. Fractures are an important health problem that will likely only get worse as the population ages. Researchers are one step closer to finding out what may put seniors at risk for fractures.
Researchers from Hebrew Senior Life’s Institute for Aging Research conducted a study that examined bone deficits in older adults with type 2 diabetes. Led by Dr. Elizabeth Samelson, the investigators used special medical scans to assess more than 1,000 seniors over a period of three years. The study found that seniors diagnosed with type 2 diabetes had deficits in the dense outer layer surface of the bone. These deficits resulted in weakness in the protective layer of the bone. This suggests that seniors with type 2 diabetes may be at a greater risk of fracture compared to seniors without this disorder. According to the researchers, even those participants with normal bone density appeared to have a higher risk of fracture if they were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The results of this study demonstrate another very important reason why diabetes management is crucial for seniors. There are several things that seniors can do to manage diabetes:
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If you haven’t already, ask your doctor or dietician to develop a meal plan that is tailored for your needs. They can help you make and follow a meal plan and learn how to choose healthier foods. You’ll also learn how to easily and quickly measure your portion sizes and stay within your carbohydrate, calorie and fat limits.
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Research indicates that moderate to high-intensity exercise is beneficial for most elderly adults. Physical activity is especially important if you have type 2 diabetes as exercise can help you better manage your diabetes.
It is recommended that older adults get at least 3 days of aerobic exercise and 2 days of resistance or strength exercises per week. Balance exercises can be beneficial for some older adults with diabetes as well. Before beginning any exercise program, talk to your doctor about what exercises you can and can’t do. It might be beneficial to ask your physician for a referral to a physical therapist if you have challenges with mobility. They can help develop a safe and effective exercise program tailored for your needs.
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Working closely with your doctor and healthcare team is an important part of managing your diabetes. If you have diabetes, you need support to reach your goals. These professionals can provide that support and help you take steps to reduce your reliance on medications and feel better overall.
The first step is to talk with your primary care doctor. Then, if you don’t have a diabetes management team already, then ask your doctor to help you establish one. A diabetes management team could include an endocrinologist, nurse educator, and dietitian, eye doctor, social worker and more. The specific professionals on your team depend on your needs. The most important part of your diabetes management team is you. Only you know how you feel and what you are willing to do to manage your diabetes. So, talk with your doctor or medical team and tell them honestly how you feel and what services you need to better manage your diabetes.