It’s important to know all you can about diabetes. One out of every four Americans does not know they have diabetes and nine out of 10 Americans do not know they have prediabetes. Information and education can help you get an early diagnosis and to remain healthy through effective management of the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association, here is what you need to know about diabetes.

  1. In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes.
  2. Diabetes can strike at any age, however, it is more prevalent in seniors. The percentage of Americans age 65 and older with diabetes remains high, at 25.2%, or 12.0 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed).
  3. According to the Centers for Disease Control, diabetes increases your risk of premature death by 50%.

There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1 diabetes: This type of diabetes is caused when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, needed to get simple sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the cells. If you have Type 1 diabetes you must take insulin. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and used to be known as juvenile diabetes. Only about 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1.
  • Type 2 diabetes: The majority of people with the disease have Type 2 diabetes, caused when the body does not use insulin properly and does not keep it at normal levels. If you have Type 2 you do not need to take insulin. Most of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented through healthy lifestyle habits.

What causes diabetes?

Risk factors for diabetes include being overweight, a family history of diabetes, or having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes).

What are the symptoms of prediabetes?

Prediabetes usually has no symptoms. In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than they should be, but not at the level to be diagnosed as diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

Some of the classic symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Increased urination
  • Feeling very thirsty or hungry
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss even though you are eating more

How do I know if I have diabetes?

The only definitive diagnosis of diabetes is obtained through screening ordered by your physician. A blood test will determine if your blood glucose levels are normal, prediabetic or high. When tests come back with higher than normal levels, the test will be repeated the next day.

Your physician will determine which of three tests for diabetes is best for you:

  1. A1C
  2. Fasting Plasma Glucose
  3. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

What do I do if I have prediabetes?

Making the right lifestyle changes can prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes. Eating fresh foods, avoiding high-fat, high-salt foods, and exercising will help to keep prediabetes in check. You can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58% if you:

What do I do if I have diabetes?

  1. Meet with a diabetes educator to learn all you need to know about managing the disease.
  2. Check your glucose levels regularly.
  3. Get active. Walking is great exercise and is highly effective in helping you to manage your diabetes.
  4. Take your medicine appropriately at the right time and at the right dose.

Because Mystic Valley Elder Services wants your nutrition to support your overall health and wellbeing, we provide current participants of Mystic Valley Elder Services programs with assistance if they need help managing a medical and nutrition-related condition, such as diabetes. This program is tailored to each individual’s needs. Please call us at 781-324-7705 to find out how we can support you.

Mystic Valley Elder Services also offers a variety of free, evidence-based healthy aging workshops to promote health, wellbeing, and happiness, including My Life, My Health: Diabetes Self Management Program, which is held periodically throughout the year. For more information on this or other Healthy Aging Programs, please contact Donna Covelle, Healthy Aging Program Coordinator, at (781) 388-4867 or

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