New Years Resolutions for Better Health
Nearly everyone makes a New Year’s resolution or two when the calendar turns to January and so one or more of “exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking, and healthier eating” appear on the lists of those of us who know we need to focus on staying healthy.
If you see yourself in this picture, what are your chances of success? Not surprising, they are not very good. In Time Magazine’s list of the most commonly broken New Year’s resolutions, three of the top four are “lose weight and get fit, quit smoking, and eat healthier and diet.”
The Next Epidemic
Why do these broken resolutions matter to older adults? These same four good health habits decrease the chances that you will develop diabetes. The top risk factors for type 2 diabetes—otherwise known as adult onset diabetes—are: age, obesity, smoking, and lack of exercise.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. It is:
- associated with higher mortality and reduced functional status;
- the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure,
- a cause of nerve damage that, coupled with diabetes-related circulation problems, often leads to the loss of a leg or foot; and
- a risk factor for heart disease.
Diabetes ultimately jeopardizes an older adult’s ability to age in place.
Type 2 diabetes is expected to be the biggest worldwide epidemic of the 21st century. In the U.S., more than 25% individuals aged 65 years and older already have diabetes—nearly all (90-95%) with type 2 diabetes. Locally, this translates to nearly 7,000 Peoria County adults 65 and over dealing with this disease.
Reduce Your Chances of Developing Diabetes
Research by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has shown that there is much you can do to lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Quit smoking.
Smoking causes type 2 diabetes. The more you smoke the higher your risk. If you smoke, your physician may be able to guide you to nicotine replacement stop-smoking aids; some are available over the counter, others are only by prescription.
- Eat healthy foods most of the time.
Cut the number of calories you eat every day with smaller portion sizes. Replace sweetened beverages with water. Choosing foods with less fat is another way to reduce calories. Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. These will help you reduce the amount of calories you eat each day and help you lose weight.
Meal planning and preparation are often issues for older adults, with predictable consequences. A trained home care aide can assist with planning and preparing a more healthy diet as well as helping with grocery shopping. A little extra help can pay dividends in better health.
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Medicare may pay to help you learn how to care for your disease. It may also help pay for diabetes tests, supplies, flu and pneumonia shots, special shoes, foot exams, eye tests, and meal planning. Medicare Part B may cover some limited medical nutrition therapy services by a Medicare-certified nutritionist, registered dietitian, or other Medicare-approved nutrition professional as part of doctor-prescribed diabetes care. Check with primary care physician for a possible referral to a specialist.
- Move more.
Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. If you have not been active, talk first with your health care professional about which activities are best. In general, it is best not to start an exercise program without first consulting with your health care professional.
- Lose weight and keep it off.
The payoff for a more healthy diet and exercise is weight loss. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing five to seven percent of your starting weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds.
Assess Your Risk for Diabetes
Take the NICCK’s Diabetes Risk Test to see if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes at tinyurl.com/acdiabetes. If the result indicates a high risk of diabetes, consult your health care professional.
Let 2018 be the year you follow through on your New Year’s resolutions to focus on your health. Your resolve may pay dividends in better health.
AC Skylines Home Care provides in-home care and nursing services for older adults. For more information and a no-charge consultation, call AC Skylines Home Care Services at (309) 689-5343 or send email to BCowley@acskylines.org. Visit www.acskylineshomecare.org or Facebook.com/ACskylinesHomeCare.