November is National Diabetes Month and to the surprise of most people, diabetes affects some 12 million American seniors – an astounding 25.2 percent of the population over age 65. Given this high percentage and the fact that over 7 million adults have undiagnosed diabetes, it is important to have a clear understanding of the disease and discuss various ways to properly manage it.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Individuals with Type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, so they must take insulin regularly in order to survive. According to the CDC, Type 1 diabetes accounts for only 5-10% of all diabetes diagnoses. Children and young adults are most likely to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, but it’s important to note that people of all ages can be diagnosed. On the other hand, Type 2 diabetics do produce insulin. Thankfully, some Type 2 diabetics may be able to manage their condition with a healthy diet and a proper exercise regimen, however, medications and insulin may also be required. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes diagnoses. Although Type 2 diabetes can occur in all ages, it is the type that most often affects middle-aged and elderly populations.
Individuals with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin frequently to make up for their lack of insulin. Unfortunately, this is the only known treatment at this time. Still, it is important for Type 1 diabetics to regularly exercise and maintain a healthy diet in order to avoid extreme spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels. Additionally, it is recommended to always keep a carbohydrate snack nearby to quickly raise glucose levels in the event of a crash.
Some Type 2 diabetics may be able to effectively manage their diabetes with a healthy diet and exercise. The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week coupled with a well-balanced diet that includes only a moderate sugar intake. Good examples of exercise include taking long walks, biking, and doing simple yardwork. Some Type 2 diabetics may require insulin or other medications to safely manage their condition. Regardless, a healthy diet and exercise are still great additions to any treatment plan.
If you have diabetes, be sure to talk to your doctor about the right treatment for you, as recommendations will vary based on your needs.
Medicare Part B generally covers the services that affect people who have diabetes and preventative services for people who are at risk. Home blood sugar (glucose) monitors and supplies used with equipment, including blood sugar test strips and lancet devices may be covered. If you are at risk for diabetes, you may be eligible for up to two diabetes screenings each year. Additionally, Part B also covers diabetes self-management training (DSMT) services for people recently diagnosed.
Medicare Part D covers diabetes supplies used for administering insulin, though there may be some out-of-pocket costs. These supplies may include: syringes, needles, alcohol swabs, gauze, and inhaled insulin devices. For more information about what aspects of diabetic care are covered by Medicare, be sure to check out Medicare.gov.