Is tight blood sugar control right for older adults with diabetes?

If left unchecked, the high blood sugar associated with diabetes can cause serious damage all over the body, especially in older patients. However, it’s also especially important for seniors to avoid hypoglycemia— blood sugar that is too low. Hypoglycemia can cause dizziness, confusion and other symptoms that may make falls more likely, and these falls can be doubly serious for older patients. They can even lead to a complete loss of independence. Consequently, some older patients may not want to control their blood sugar as strictly as younger diabetics.

Key Takeaways:

  • When a geriatrician meets an individual who is aging gracefully and takes care of themselves, he or she is happy.
  • Diabetes is different from other diseases where the doctor can tell you acceptable levels for a condition. High and low glucose levels are dangerous to the body.
  • You can damage the major organs of the body by having high glucose levels and low glucose levels manifest in symptoms like falling, difficulty thinking or excessive sweating.

“With improved public education, it is now common knowledge that uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage to the major organs of the body, such as the heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, blood vessels, and brain. So, it is important to ask how tightly blood glucose (also called blood sugar) should be controlled to decrease the risk of harm to these organs.”

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