One of the things that family caregivers do in caring for their older relatives is learning about the medical conditions they have. Gaining this kind of knowledge lets them take even better care of seniors and advocate for their care with health care providers. If your aging relative has diabetes, one of the things that can be helpful to know is what causes the disease.
Insulin and the Body
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot efficiently use insulin or when it doesn’t make enough insulin. Before diving into some of the things that can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, it’s important to know something about how insulin works in the body.
Insulin is a kind of hormone that is produced by the pancreas, a small organ that is located just below the stomach. When the pancreas releases insulin, the insulin moves throughout the body allowing sugar to get into cells. This causes the amount of sugar in the bloodstream to decrease. When blood sugar decreases, the pancreas stops sending out insulin.
Sugar, which is also called glucose, is what gives cells the energy they need to function. The liver produces some glucose and the body gets some glucose from food. The liver also stores extra glucose in the form of glycogen. When blood sugar is low, such as when your aging relative hasn’t eaten in a while, the liver starts to break down the stored glycogen into glucose.
In people who have type 2 diabetes, this process doesn’t work the way it should. Glucose cannot get into the cells, so it builds up in the bloodstream. That causes blood sugar levels to rise. The pancreas tries to keep up, but eventually the extra work causes damage and it cannot keep up.
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes some people to develop type 2 diabetes, but it is probably a combination of factors. Some of the factors that may contribute to diabetes are:
• Genetics: People with a close relative who has diabetes are at a greater risk for developing the disease, which suggests that genetics may play a role.
• Weight: Being overweight or obese, especially when fat is stored around the waistline, can make cells less receptive to insulin.
• Lifestyle Choices: Eating an unhealthy diet that doesn’t include enough fiber and contains a lot of fat is one lifestyle choice that can contribute to type 2 diabetes. In addition, not exercising enough can also lead to the disease because exercising helps the body use glucose and helps keep weight down.
Even after an older adult has been diagnosed with diabetes, making some lifestyle changes can help to improve their condition. Home care can assist with making some of those changes. A home care provider can prepare healthy meals that have more fiber, less fat, and help with weight loss. Home care providers can also encourage older adults to exercise by driving them to an exercise facility or class or going for walks with them.
If you or someone you know needs help with Home Care in Cascade, MI, contact Gauthier Family Home Care. We provide quality and affordable homecare services in our community. Call us at (616) 258-2300 for more information.
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