29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, almost all of them have prediabetes first. Hearing that your parent has prediabetes is cause for worry, but it is also a call to action. That’s because prediabetes gives your parent a chance to make changes to prevent type 2 diabetes. The first step is understanding what prediabetes is and knowing which lifestyle changes could make a difference.
What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes means that your parent’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not within the range that signifies type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes has also been called “borderline diabetes” and “impaired glucose tolerance.” In a healthy person, the body produces insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Sometimes the body does not produce enough insulin or is unable to effectively use insulin, causing diabetes. People with prediabetes will almost always develop type 2 diabetes if they do not take charge of their health and make the necessary lifestyle changes.
How is Prediabetes Diagnosed?
There are no noticeable symptoms of diabetes, so the only way to know if you have prediabetes is to be tested for it. Doctors test for prediabetes using a blood test. There are three kinds of blood tests used for diagnosing prediabetes or diabetes: the fasting plasma glucose test, the oral glucose tolerance test, and the hemoglobin A1C test. Sometimes the tests are performed a second time to confirm the diagnosis.
How Can My Parent Prevent Diabetes?
When a person has prediabetes, the damage to their heart, kidneys, and blood vessels that occur with diabetes may already be starting. Making the following lifestyle changes can prevent your parent from developing type 2 diabetes:
- Eat Healthy: Focus on meals that are balanced, low in fat, and contain lots of vegetables and whole-grain foods. Avoid foods that are starchy or high in sugar. Foods that are high in fiber are good choices because they can help your parent feel fuller.
- Lose Weight: If your parent is overweight, they have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Even a small weight loss can make a big difference.
- Exercise: Encourage your parent to start exercising regularly. 30 minutes of moderately aerobic exercise per day can help reduce the risks of prediabetes turning into diabetes.
The changes your parent makes don’t have to be enormous to make an enormous difference. According to the American Diabetes Association, if your parent loses just 7 percent of their body weight and takes a 30-minute brisk walk each day, they’ll reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes by 58 percent!
How Can an Elder Care Provider Help?
Your parent’s elder care provider can be an essential part of your parent’s fight against developing diabetes. Elder care providers can assist your parent with making healthy meals and snacks, which can also help your parent to lose weight. An elder care provider can also encourage your parent to exercise. If your parent worries about safety when they exercise because of balance or mobility issues, having an elder care provider present while they exercise can reduce their fear.
We provide quality non-medical services to our clients in their homes or in a facility if that’s where they live. Our staff is available for care plans for extensive care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or as little as 4 hours per visit. Reach out to us, and one of our outstanding administrative staff will meet with potential clients to assist them and their families in designing an effective, personal plan of care.