The aging process affects blood glucose levels from age 60 and can cause symptoms in many people. Seniors are often at a much higher risk of developing serious health problems than any other age group. Some common reasons for their increased susceptibility include unhealthy eating habits, excessive alcohol consumption and a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels at an older age can be crucial. In this regard, below you will find some important information that can help you take the right measures against diabetes or high blood sugar.
Table of Contents
- What to do if blood glucose levels are unusual at age 60 and above?
- What blood glucose levels are normal at older ages?
- When are you at risk for diabetes and what goals should you set?
- When are blood glucose levels too high at age 60 and older?
- Possible nutritional therapies for diabetes or abnormal blood glucose levels.
- Further health tips against abnormal blood glucose levels from 60 years onwards
What to do if blood sugar levels are abnormal from age 60?
Blood sugar keeps the brain, heart and other organs healthy, though older adults with diabetes are at higher risk of suffering from several diseases. These include heart attacks, vision problems and nerve damage. Those should therefore keep their blood sugar levels in a safe range to reduce such health risks. Indeed, high or low blood sugar levels indicate an underlying health condition that may require medical attention.
In addition, seniors who have difficulty maintaining healthy blood sugar levels should monitor their activities more closely, as well as their daily diet. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can cause fainting, memory problems and even death. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to kidney, eye, nerve, and cardiovascular disease over time. Because blood glucose levels naturally rise after age 60, this can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, more than 20% of people diagnosed with the disease are over the age of 65. For this reason, it is advisable to recognize these levels in order to be able to react to them in time.
What blood glucose level is normal in older age?
When carbohydrates are consumed, blood glucose levels rise as they enter the bloodstream. In response, the body releases insulin from the pancreas, allowing cells to use the carbohydrates for energy. Older men or women with hypoglycemia may have released too much insulin or not eaten for too long. When the body doesn’t have enough energy to function, it shuts down quickly. Blood glucose levels below 70 mg/dL are therefore considered hypoglycemic. Accordingly, older people with hyperglycemia often have diabetes. In this case, their body may no longer produce insulin (type 1 diabetes) or use the hormone effectively for energy (type 2 diabetes).
Because high blood glucose levels can damage various organs in the body over time, it is important to keep blood glucose levels within a normal range. Normal ranges of blood glucose levels are between 70 and 130 mg/dL before eating. A recommended blood glucose level is less than 180 mg/dL two hours after eating. Therefore, older individuals should focus on healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutritious foods , exercising regularly and having strong social ties.
When are you at risk for diabetes and what goals should you set?
To diagnose prediabetes, when glucose levels are high but not high enough to develop as type 2 diabetes, blood tests can help. Thus, glucose levels can be measured either when the stomach is empty (in an empty state) or after eating (postprandial values). However, blood tests alone cannot confirm diabetes, but they can at least provide evidence of it. This is necessary to justify further medical testing if diabetes is suspected.
In addition, hypoglycemia is common in older women or men with diabetes. However, this may be due to other health problems such as chronic disease, malnutrition, or reaction to medications. Accordingly, the risk of complications from diabetes may increase with age. Hypoglycemia can even occur from taking too many medications, which is not uncommon in adults of older age.
So, if your blood glucose levels deviate from the standard starting at age 60, your diabetic treatment goals will change as well. Other health problems and/or cognitive impairment also affect this. If you are in good health, you may be able to treat diabetes as if you were younger. However, if you have other health problems, less stringent treatment may help you avoid hypoglycemia.
When are blood glucose levels too high after age 60?
As mentioned earlier, hyperglycemia occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin properly. It can occur for several reasons such as stress, illness, dawn phenomenon, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and others. The most common symptoms of hyperglycemia are fatigue, frequent urination, headache, blurred vision, increased thirst, weight loss and difficulty concentrating. Without timely treatment, high blood sugar levels can lead to eye, kidney, nerve and heart problems.
The good news is that high blood sugar levels can be controlled with the help of appropriate medications and a healthy lifestyle. Here are some tips to that end:
- Eat low-sugar foods that are minimally processed.
- Do not exercise when ketones are present in the bloodstream. Use a blood glucose monitor to keep ketones in check.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take the right medications as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Possible dietary therapies for diabetes or abnormal blood sugar levels.
As you have already seen, diet can be an important factor in treating diabetes. However, maintaining a healthy diet can often be challenging for some older people. This can trigger common gastrointestinal problems and put affected individuals at higher risk. Such problems can include difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), anorexia, digestive and bowel problems, or feeling full after eating very little. Keeping a food diary can help you or your care team better identify such feeding problems.
Older adults may also need to add medical nutrition therapy to their diabetes treatment plan. In such cases, a registered dietitian will create a nutrition plan tailored to your needs. The following strategies are recommended:
- Adding supplements, protein, or liquid calories to help maintain weight
- Relaxing food restrictions
- Assisting with meal preparation, grocery shopping or following a diet plan
More health tips to combat deviant blood sugar levels over age 60
It is normal for your diabetes management to change with age. Follow the treatment plan that was created for you. Remember that your target numbers may be higher than those for other age groups. If you need help managing your diabetes, talk it up. Your doctor can guide you and help you find the resources you need. Otherwise, you can take the following steps to lower high blood sugar levels naturally:
- Try to eat a high-protein, high-fiber breakfast in the morning to keep your blood sugar levels in norm. This will help you digest and stabilize the sugar levels released into the blood.
- Move more often and do exercises suitable for your age to lower high blood sugar levels from 60 years old.
- Prefer to switch to water, as beverages fortified with sugar can quickly raise your blood sugar levels.
- If you have hypoglycemia, keep quick carbohydrates like fructose on hand in case your blood sugar crashes. A quick snack or drink can raise your blood sugar in this condition to help you feel normal again.
Hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia become more likely if you are over 60 years old. Targeted blood glucose levels help curb the risk of diabetes, while frequent blood glucose checks can also prevent the endocrine disease. In addition, diabetes is managed primarily through diet and medication. However, as you age and your health declines, it can become more difficult to manage these factors properly. Therefore, your doctor can suggest an appropriate medical nutrition therapy. He can base this on your individual needs and health status.