National Diabetes Week – Ageing and Diabetes

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Last week (11th July – 17th July) was National Diabetes Week. Did you know that more than 1.8 million Australian’s are living with diabetes? And, on average, 280 people are diagnosed daily in Australia.

As we age, the rate of developing diabetes increases. And as a result, it may lead to many other serious health implications.

In light of National Diabetes Week, we thought we would share some information to help you understand diabetes and how it can impact your life or the life of someone you love who lives with the condition.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious and complicated condition where a person’s body cannot maintain healthy glucose levels in the blood. Glucose is a form of sugar that is the main energy source for us. For our bodies to function properly, we need to convert the glucose from foods into energy . In doing this, the hormone insulin (which is produced in the pancreas) is essential to convert glucose into energy. For people living with diabetes, insulin is no longer produced, or they do not produce a sufficient amount of insulin their body requires.

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. It is important to note that diabetes does not discriminate; anyone can develop diabetes at any time in their life.

What health conditions can arise from someone with diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that can be managed. Still, some serious health complications can arise, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression and anxiety, and blindness. It is known that diabetes:

  • Is the leading cause of blindness in older adults.
  • Is the leading cause of kidney failure and dialysis.
  • Increases the risk of a heart attack and stroke up to four times.
  • Is a major cause of limb amputations.

Type 1 diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition meaning the immune system is activated and destroys the cells in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes is not curable and cannot be prevented and represents roughly 10% of all people who live with diabetes. Unfortunately, the cause of type 1 diabetes is not yet known. People living with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin injections or the use of a pump to survive.

Type 2 diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes represents 85-90% of all cases of diabetes. It is a progressive condition where over time, the body gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin, or the insulin no longer works effectively anymore. Type 2 diabetes is heavily associated with lifestyle factors, so some people may be able to slow the condition through diet changes and exercising regularly to keep a healthy weight. The following lifestyle changes can prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a wholesome and healthy diet
  • Managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Not smoking

The danger is that many people do not know they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you’d like to calculate your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, head to https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/risk-calculator

Gestational diabetes:

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a form of diabetes that forms during pregnancy. It is the fastest-growing type of diabetes in Australia and affects thousands of pregnant women. Most women will no longer have gestational diabetes after the baby is born.

National Diabetes Week:

This year’s National Diabetes Week is continuing Diabetes Australia’s ‘Heads Up’ campaign, which addresses the mental and emotional health of people who live with diabetes.

  • 4 in 5 people with diabetes will have experienced diabetes stigma
  • Nearly 50% of people with diabetes experienced mental health challenges in the last 12 months.

The mental toll of people living with diabetes can be significant. People living with diabetes experience stigma when they feel blamed for having diabetes while managing diabetes in public, like injecting insulin or consuming foods to control their blood sugar level.

Diabetes week is all about helping to raise awareness about the ‘Heads Up’ campaign and help us understand how living with diabetes can affect a person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

If you’d like more information about National Diabetes Week and the work from Diabetes Australia, head to https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/news-resources/current-campaigns/national-diabetes-week/