Regardless of age, everyone needs exercise to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that seniors get in at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Exercise helps to strengthen muscles and control weight. Of course, when your aging relative exercises, you want them to stay safe from injuries. But, if your family member is diabetic, exercising safely is more complicated than just avoiding injury. Exercise affects blood sugar. For older adults with diabetes to exercise safely, it’s important to understand how exercise impacts blood sugar levels and what steps can be taken to avoid dips and spikes.
How Exercise Affects Blood Sugar
How exercise affects your aging relative’s blood sugar levels depends on a number of factors, including:
- What their blood sugar level was before they started exercising.
- How vigorously they exercise.
- How long they exercise.
- Changes to insulin dosage.
During exercise, it is possible for the older adult’s blood sugar to drop too low, causing hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be serious and requires immediate treatment if levels drop to 70 mg/dL or lower. Untreated, hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, losing consciousness, and even death.
Exercise Tips for Diabetics
Seniors with diabetes should not let the risk of hypoglycemia stop them from exercising. Instead, there are steps they can take to remain safe, such as:
- Talk to a Doctor: Before beginning a new exercise routine, it’s important for diabetic seniors to speak with their doctor. Ask what kinds of exercise are appropriate for them, whether they should adjust medications, and if there are any other individual guidelines they should follow.
- Carry Carbohydrates: Seniors should have a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as fruit juice, readily available in case of a blood sugar dip. The doctor may also suggest carrying glucose tablets.
- Wear the Right Shoes: Not only can shoes that fit well prevent an injury due to a fall, they can also protect diabetic feet from blisters and sores. They should also wear polyester socks designed for athletes, which will help wick away moisture. Before and after exercising, feet should be inspected for blisters, cuts, and sores.
- Medical ID: Seniors with diabetes should wear a medical ID bracelet to alert first responders of their condition in case of an emergency.
- Check Blood Sugar: It’s important to check blood sugar both before and after exercising. It should be within the target range.
- Be Alert for Symptoms: If the senior starts to feel anxious or shaky, or if they sweat more than usual, they should immediately stop exercising and check their blood sugar.
In addition to following the above safety tips, elderly care can also help keep diabetic seniors safe during exercise. An elderly care provider can help with inspecting feet and ensuring the senior is wearing proper footwear. Elderly care providers can also monitor exercise and offer carbohydrates if the older adult experiences signs of hypoglycemia. If a medical emergency should occur, an elderly care provider can call 9-1-1 for help.
If you are considering elderly care in Skokie, IL for an aging loved one, please call the caring staff at A-Abiding Care today. Serving North and Northwest Chicago and the surrounding area for over 30 years. Call 847-698-1400.
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