Maintaining Mobility with Diabetes
The diagnosis is Type 2 diabetes—what happens now?
Diabetics must not only monitor the direct symptoms of the disease (high blood sugar levels), but they must also be vigilant to other problems that arise as complications of their condition. Diabetics have a lower blood pressure and a lower functioning immune system, and a major concern of these effects is reduced mobility, whether by limited joint mobility, obesity, or as a result of amputation. Studies have shown that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have mobility issues as other people their age.
In order to preserve your mobility with the onset of diabetes and age, you can take several preventative measures, including educating yourself, taking care of your feet, and exercising. Educate yourself Knowledge is power, as they say. Take time to learn about the ins and outs of your condition and how it will affect your mobility and lifestyle. You may have to accept that some things may be more difficult for you than they would be for someone without diabetes.
Learn how to manage your blood sugar, and utilize the resources that are available to you as a diabetic, starting with your doctor. A couple of useful sites are the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Diabetes Public Health Resource and the American Diabetes Association website.
Take care of your feet Along with diabetes can come a condition called diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), characterized by numbness and tingling, especially in the extremities. Because of the numbness, small sores and injuries can go unnoticed, developing into larger infections later.
If untreated, these infections can eventually lead to amputation, an obvious hindrance to mobility. So how do you keep all your toes? Take care of your feet, as your doctor has most likely already told you. Wear properly fitting shoes that will not rub and cause sores. Examine your feet regularly for small sores and beginnings of infection, and have regular foot examinations. Keep toenails clean and clipped to minimize the risk of infection.
Exercise It seems we will never stop hearing about the benefits of exercise; exercise is good for everyone, no matter their condition. Diabetics especially benefit from the increased blood flow and the uptake of more sugar by the muscles during physical activity, which lowers blood sugar levels naturally without the help of medication. Exercise helps maintain and even increase mobility for diabetics as well, even with the use of mobility devices. However, the idea of anything that brings more discomfort on top of what you have already experienced can make exercising even more daunting than it might be otherwise.
Just remember to take it one step at a time, and keep in mind that even moving slowly is moving in the right direction. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist to develop an exercise program that is right for you. Find activities you enjoy that you will be able to do on a regular basis—you may even try something new. Many diabetics have found low-impact exercises such as tai chi, bicycling, and swimming to be both fun and beneficial.
A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to slow you down, at least not permanently. Education, proper foot care, and a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain your mobility and keep moving on despite life’s challenges. Ken Stanfield is a researcher, writer, and health enthusiast who spends his time researching and writing about health care, geriatric healthcare needs, and humanitarianism. He writes for the medical walkers supplier.