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Diabetics Make Wise Choices

By Valerie Thelen, Staff Writer

FOOD
What a diabetic eats each and every day is the most important factor in maintaining healthy blood sugar (glucose) levels. If a caregiver is responsible for shopping and/or providing meals for a loved one, they must have a keen awareness of which foods to and not to serve.

What kinds of food wreak havoc on blood sugar levels? Refined sugars and refined grains are the top two offenders. Here are a few tips to keep a loved oneís kitchen diabetic-friendly.

  • Stock up on protein. Eggs, chicken, beans, fish, hummus, low-fat cheese, nuts and seeds are all great options.

  • Eat seafood at least three times a week.

  •  Keep packaged snacks and other foods to a minimum. Itís human nature. If the cookies and chips are available, they will be eaten. Keep those items sparingly around a loved oneís residence.

  •  Buy high-quality spices and fresh herbs. A little bit of flavor can go a long way into making a meal score above average in a taste test.

  • Keep lots of low-glycemic fruits on hand. These include apples, peaches, pears and plums. Due to the natural sugar content, fruits must be portioned reasonably.

EXERCISE
Every person has their own level of exercise ability. With a diabetic senior, itís so important to encourage any exercise no matter how little it may seem. There are many studies proving the benefit of regular exercise to someone with diabetes. Walking is a perfect fit for many seniors who may struggle with more high-impact aerobic activity.

As a caregiver, itís recommended to not nag, but encourage. A caregiver must also realize that they canít make a loved one do anything. It has to be their decision and a caregiver can merely help facilitate that choice by offering practical ways to exercise and find out what their loved one enjoys.

A stationary bike is also a good exercise option for seniors. If mobility is an issue, there are many chair options such as ďSit and Be Fit,Ē available on public television, video or DVD.

Diabetic counselors are great resources for caregivers looking for other options to present to a loved one. They are trained in promoting a healthy diabetic lifestyle and may have a voice of ďauthorityĒ a loved one will respond to.

COMPLICATIONS
Especially with seniors, caregivers must watch for symptoms that their loved oneís diabetes is causing complications. Many times seniors wonít or canít express difficulties they are having.  Chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to damage to nearly every body organ. If a loved one is also suffering from high cholesterol or blood pressure, the risks are greater.
 
Complications with diabetes can happen to even the most diligent patient. A caregiver should not make a loved one feel as if they have done something wrong, but encourage good habits and help them manage the illness as best they can. A telling symptom of severe complications include neuropathy, so a caregiver should frequently check a loved oneís feet for infection and loss of feeling. Other skin areas should be watched for infection, fungus and boils.
 
Diabetes is a lifelong condition that will have a lot of ups and downs throughout the course of a loved oneís life. With a proactive approach and positive attitude from both caregiver and loved one, diabetes can be managed effectively.

 


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