November is diabetes month, and the COVID-19 pandemic should encourage us to pay attention . . . our lives may depend on it!
In 2019 there were over 48 million Americans 65 or older. Of that population around 28% had diabetes or prediabetes. Just think about it — when you get together with your friends (back when there wasn’t a pandemic and you could get together), almost 3 out of 10 people in the room had diabetes or prediabetes. That’s a lot of your friends, it may even be you. As with most diseases early detection is key to maintaining an active lifestyle and avoiding complications. There are 34 million people in America with diabetes and 1 in 5 of the 34 million are unaware they have it. The bottom line is there are a lot of older Americans with diabetes and the preliminary data indicates that people with diabetes are much more likely to have complications if they catch COVID-19.
So, either you or, most likely, someone you care for or know has diabetes. The question is, what can you do? If we’ve heard it once we’ve heard it a hundred times — wear a mask, social distance, and stay away from large groups indoors. Those are the added steps over and above what we should be doing as diabetics. In fact, some of the COVID-19 restrictions may make it harder for a diabetic to stay healthy. For instance, the CDC highlights the 3 common mistakes diabetics make in controlling their disease.
- Not testing enough – Each individual is different. Their testing regime is designed for them and the intervals are important. Testing is critical.
- Not moving enough – Here is where the pandemic could cause problems. Self-isolating is a great way to avoid getting the COVID-19 virus. It’s also a great way to turn into couch potatoes. Here’s my catch phrase, find a way to isolate and invigorate. Get up and move, exercise, walking outside is OK and the fresh air will help. Find a way to move every day.
- Not checking up – You may think that everything is going well with your diabetes and you don’t need to keep your regular appointment with your doctor, especially with the virus running rampant. Don’t skip your appointment. Follow all of the safety rules but go to the doctor. It’s your best defense against problems.
There’s another important step you can take to keep you healthy, get your flu shot. Now’s the time, if you haven’t had your shot yet, get it this week. This link takes you to a great article on flu and people with diabetes. A couple of important things from the article, for those of us over 50, we should get the shot rather than the nasal spray vaccine. Also, when you go to get your flu shot see if you’re up-to-date on your pneumonia vaccination. Both the flu and pneumonia can be devastating for diabetics or people with prediabetes and is really harmful for those that don’t even know they have diabetes.
This year especially, if you have diabetes, you need to pay attention to the effects the pandemic, flu and pneumonia can have on you. If you are a caregiver to someone with diabetes, or have a friend or loved one with the disease, help them understand how important it is this year to pay attention to your doctor’s directions and observe the recommendations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. It truly can be a matter of life or death.
Finally, today we will select who will be our President for the next 4 years. I hope you voted. It is the loudest and most effective way seniors can speak out. There are, however, other more frequent ways we can speak out about how we feel on issues that affect us. We only vote for federal offices every two years but we can advocate and speak out as many times as necessary to let those in Washington know how we feel. Just recently, in the diabetes arena, the price of insulin was reduced for many who suffered from diabetes. I feel that our representatives heard loud and clear about how we felt about insulin prices and it had an effect. I urge you to vote and then to stay involved, it’s the only way we can have a say in how our healthcare is administered.
So, pay attention, follow the suggestions on staying healthy with diabetes, including following the guidelines concerning the pandemic and getting your flu and pneumonia vaccinations. And finally, stay involved — you really can make a difference.
Stay healthy, Thair