Nov 10, 2017 by Marlin Duncan
The holiday season is a time for enjoying family, friends and great food and drink; however, for seniors with diabetes the holidays can be a dangerous time. It’s Diabetes Awareness Month and a great time for seniors to make a plan for how to handle their diabetes during the upcoming holidays. Comfort Keepers of Wilkes-Barre, PA created this list of helpful tips that seniors can use to plan for their holidays:
One of the biggest joys of the holidays is eating delicious traditional dishes. However, seniors with diabetes need to watch how much sugar and how many carbs they are eating and most holiday foods are full of sugar and carbs. If older adults with diabetes are cooking dinner for their family or attending a dinner at a loved one’s home, they should search for healthy alternatives to traditional holiday dishes.
For example, cookies and sweets can be made with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar to make them more diabetic friendly. And instead of cooking with rich high fat sour cream dishes can be made with cottage cheese or plain yogurt. Seniors with diabetes who are planning on cooking holiday favorites for their families can get help making healthy substitutions from a home health aide. A home health aide can also help seniors shop for healthy holiday cooking ingredients and cook holiday meals.
Often times, diabetic seniors forget to exercise during the holiday season. This is unfortunate because working out on a regular basis during the holidays can help stabilize blood sugar and even offset the effects of a large meal. Some of the best exercises for older adults with diabetes include brisk walking outside or on a treadmill, water aerobics or swimming, bicycling, tai-chi, yoga, and stationary bicycling.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea for older adults to skip meals in order to save up for a big holiday feast. By doing so, seniors will find it more challenging to control their blood sugar. They will likely be starving and more likely to overeat if they skip meals than they would if they eat a nutritious meal a few hours beforehand.
Holiday gatherings almost always involve some type of alcohol. While it’s okay for seniors to have a drink or two, they should be careful not to overdrink as alcohol can reduce blood sugar levels and interact with diabetes medications. In the event that they do decide to drink, diabetic older adults should pair their alcohol with food.
Due to the fact that the holiday season is filled with social gatherings, many seniors stay out later and don’t get enough sleep as a result. Since sleep loss can make it more difficult for them to control their blood sugar, and sleep deprivation almost always leads to overindulging in foods that are high in fat and sugar, it’s imperative that older adults get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every evening.
Sticking to a diabetes meal plan and healthy lifestyle choices can be tough when there are temptations and holiday gatherings that make it easy for seniors to splurge. The good news is it can be done when older adults make it a priority to look for diabetes friendly alternatives to traditional holiday dishes, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, avoid skipping meals, and limit their alcohol intake.
If you have a senior loved one in Wilkes Barre, PA that has diabetes and needs a little extra help staying healthy during the holiday season, contact us or call (570) 486-6492 today to find out more about the ways that a home health aide can help your loved one manage their diabetes this holiday season.