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7 Early Symptoms of Diabetes the Elderly Should Be Aware Of

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

Surveys suggest more than 25 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. However, many are undiagnosed because some of the symptoms are similar to other less serious medical conditions. If left untreated, the disorder progresses and can cause many health complications. Family caregivers should watch for common symptoms of diabetes so their elderly loved ones can get the medical help they need. 


Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder care. Milford families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

1. Numbness and Tingling

This sensation commonly develops in the fingers, hands, legs, and feet because of increased blood sugar levels, which interfere with normal blood circulation. Initially, the numbness and tingling is minor, but as nerve involvement progresses, the symptoms worsen and become painful. Eventually, nerve damage affects muscle function, sensory organ function, and the central nervous system, which can lead to blood vessel blockages and further irreversible nerve damage. 

2. Increased Voiding

Diabetic seniors experience frequent urges to urinate, as the kidneys attempt to eliminate excess blood sugar. Polyuria causes seniors to eliminate 1.5 to 3 times more fluid than normal, which could lead to dehydration and eventually kidney damage. Excessive urination is one of the many symptoms that causes people to seek medical attention and get diagnosed. 

3. Unusual Weight Loss

Fast and unexplained weight loss is common in seniors with untreated diabetes. Body cells can starve because glucose does not reach them and provide much-needed nourishment. Without a nutritional resource, the body burns fat stores and muscle for energy. If your loved one loses 5 or more pounds in less than 6 months without diet or exercise, consult a physician.

If you are a family caregiver and find it challenging to take your loved one to medical appointments and accomplish other caregiving duties, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Get in touch with Home Care Assistance to find out how a Milford, CT, live-in home caregiver can help your aging loved one live a longer, healthier, and happier life. Our caregivers are available 24/7, all of our senior care services come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts.

4. Increased Appetite

When the cells begin starving, the body tries to compensate by increasing an individual’s appetite. However, the body does not absorb the necessary nutrition. Seniors who have increased appetites and weight loss may have diabetes. 

5. Visual Disturbances

Blurry vision is another symptom commonly associated with the onset of diabetes. The spike in blood sugar levels combined with impaired blood circulation and subsequent nerve damage leads to vision loss. Diabetic adults have a 40 percent higher risk of developing glaucoma and a 60 percent higher risk of developing cataracts. The longer diabetes goes untreated, the higher the risk factors. Seniors should have regular eye exams. 

6. Dry, Irritated Skin

When blood circulation slows, oil and sweat glands cannot function normally. The skin can become dry, flaky, itchy, and irritating when combined with dehydration from polyuria. Diabetic seniors are also more likely to develop various skin disorders, including topical bacterial or fungal infections and nail abnormalities. Wounds and skin problems also take more time to heal and often get worse when a senior has diabetes. 

7. Fatigue

The lack of sufficient energy caused by a lack of nutritional resources can lead to fatigue. High levels of blood glucose thicken the blood, which interferes with oxygen and nutrient delivery. Unexplained tiredness can also occur when blood sugars drop too low. 

Diabetes can lead to other medical conditions in seniors. Doctors have long suspected that too much sugar in the blood can lead to dementia-related medical conditions, and recent research has linked diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors to manage without assistance, and it can be just as challenging for families who do not have experience in providing Alzheimer’s care. For trusted Milford Alzheimer’s home care, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method was designed to help seniors with Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions live happier and healthier lives. For more information on our elder care services, call (203) 955-1915 and speak with a Care Manager.

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