How to Reduce Lower Back Pain with Exercise

lower back exercisesAs we age, our bodies start to go through some physical changes. We lose muscle mass and flexibility, and some of us start to deal with pain from certain chronic conditions, such as osteoporosis or arthritis. One of the most common ailments older adults suffer from is lower back pain, and this is due to the fact that over time, the bones and disks in our spines can start to degenerate, making us sore, stiff and uncomfortable.

Basically, the individual bones in our spine, called vertebrae, are stacked on top of each other with small joints in between them that allow the spine to move, along with disks with a jelly-like center that acts as a shock absorber. These disks begin to wear away as we age, allowing the bones to rub on top of each other, causing the soreness and pain we feel. This degeneration of the joints in the spine occurs in many individuals over the age of 60. In fact, aging is called the number one cause of back pain in seniors.

However, there are many other reasons lower back pain occurs in seniors. Having poor posture throughout your life, being overweight, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits, conditions like spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis can cause chronic back pain.

The Best Exercises for Lower Back Pain

By properly adjusting your lifestyle, back pain doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. Adding some gentle lower back exercises into your daily workout routine can help strengthen your back muscles, increase your range of motion and improve your flexibility. Plus, these exercises have other positive effects, like improving your balance and mobility.

Some of the best exercises for lower back pain include:

Pelvic Tilt: Strengthen muscles in the pelvic and abdominal regions for the support needed to avoid back strain leading to pain. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Tilt your pelvis in toward your chest, keeping your mid-back on the floor. Hold for 3 seconds, then release. Repeat up to 10 times.

The Bridge: Strengthen muscles of the lower back and buttocks while stretching the hip flexors, which help keep the lower back muscles healthy and strong. Like the pelvic tilt, start lying flat on the floor on your back, bending your knees and keeping your arms at your sides. Raise your pelvis into the air as high as you comfortably can and hold for 3 seconds, then lower back down.

Stability Exercises: These exercises often require the use of an exercise ball to strengthen the lower back. A good one to try is sitting on the ball with your feet flat on the floor, slowly raising one arm overhead, repeating on both sides.

Core Exercises: Having a strong core is an essential part of your overall health, as every movement you make is generated from the muscles located in your abdomen, back, hips and pelvis. Core exercises can be done anywhere, at any time, and no fancy equipment is needed.

Leg Strengthening: Strong legs help prevent tension in the lower back, because these muscles pull on your spine. Leg strengthening exercises such as simply standing with your hands on a piece of sturdy furniture for balance, slowly bending the knee and pulling it up to hip level, then lowering it and repeating on the other side will not only reduce lower back pain, but also make daily tasks like getting out of bed or into the shower easier.

American Senior Communities’ New Energy Wellness program is a unique fitness program for seniors designed to promote an active lifestyle. Contact us today to request more information.

5 Tips for Cutting Costs During Retirement

retirement savings tipsAs you enter your retirement years, you’re probably looking forward to relaxing, traveling, spending time with family and friends, picking up a new hobby or just having to the ability to do all the things you enjoy doing. That’s what retirement should be, after all; a time for new experiences after a long, rewarding career.

However, some retirees may worry how they will be able to maintain the lifestyle they’ve always had once they’re no longer in the workforce. This is why proper retirement planning and saving for the future is so key to a fulfilling life in our later years. However, there are also some ways to cut costs to ensure your retirement savings are not depleted within the first year or two of your retirement.

How to Keep Your Retirement Savings in Check

Research shows that around 71% of Americans have financial worries like not having enough money in their savings account. In fact, 34% have no savings outside their retirement savings plan! This means if an emergency were to arise, it may lead to a somewhat desperate situation.

This is why it’s important to evaluate your spending after you retire to discover some new ways to continue to build your retirement savings. Here are five tips for things you can do to cut some costs- and put that extra money right into a savings account:

  • Stick to a budget. Hopefully, by this point you have been utilizing a budget regularly to keep track of your monthly expenses. If you haven’t, retirement is definitely the time to start. Otherwise, now that you have more time on your hands you might find yourself spending money you wouldn’t normally have spent in the past.
  • Pay with cash. Put the plastic away and spend cash instead. Studies show that people who buy things with cash typically spend about 20% less than those who charge items. This is because before you make a purchase, you really have to think about where your money is going and what you might have to sacrifice that month to buy it.
  • Travel during non-peak times. Once you’re retired, you have the option of traveling during the week when air fare may be cheaper. Or, you can travel during the off-season when kids are in school and rates for accommodations are lower.
  • Downsize your home. Once you’re retired, your children are most likely moved out of the home and you may find yourself living in a space that’s simply too big for your needs. It can get difficult to maintain a large home in your later years, and big-ticket expenses like needing a new roof or furnace can really start to add up. You can consider downsizing into a smaller home or apartment, or even moving into an independent senior living community where all home maintenance tasks are included in your monthly rent.
  • Ask for senior discounts. One of the biggest perks throughout your senior years is all the discounts you can get! Places like restaurants, movie theaters, museums, parks and even shopping centers offer senior discounts, allowing you to put the money saved right into your retirement savings account.

Enjoy your retirement at American Senior Communities in our Garden Homes or independent living apartments. Contact us today to request more information.

Stress and Diabetes

stress and diabetesThroughout our lives, we all face certain stress from time to time. Stress is a physiological response to a perceived attack, event or activity that produces tension or strain. Stress can be physical, caused by an illness or injury, or it can be emotional in the way that we react to certain situations with our families, finances or health. No matter how the stress develops, each form takes a toll on the body. You may experience headaches, muscle pain, trouble sleeping, feeling irritable and depressed, and may end up withdrawing from social activities when you’re stressed.

When you are stressed, your body will react with a “fight or flight” response. Stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine kick in, creating stored energy in the form of glucose and fat for the cells to help the body cope with the challenge ahead. Your body directs blood to your limbs and muscles, which allows you to fight whatever the stressful situation might be.

How are Stress and Diabetes Related?

When someone has diabetes and is stressed, this elevated amount of blood glucose can affect insulin levels. This is because people with diabetes have a difficult time utilizing that fight-or-flight response effectively, since the right level of insulin isn’t always available to convert energy. This causes an increase of glucose in the bloodstream.

Plus, simply just having diabetes can be a stressful situation for some people. A lot goes into managing the condition, and long term problems with blood glucose can simply wear you down both mentally and physically.

How to Lower Your Stress Levels

First of all, it’s important for people with diabetes to recognize when they are stressed out. Because stress has simply become something we cope with on a daily basis throughout our hectic lives, it can be difficult to note when we are feeling especially stressed or anxious. However, when you have diabetes and are stressed, your insulin levels may need to be adjusted to compensate for the higher levels of glucose in your blood.

Take note of the times your stress levels are elevated. For instance, if you know heading to the doctor makes you anxious, rate how stressed you feel on a level of 1 to 10. Then, check your glucose levels and watch for patterns during these stressful situations. Often insulin will need to be adjusted during these periods.

After you’ve discovered what triggers the most stress in your life, there are ways to combat it. For instance, you can:

Meditate or try yoga. Calm your mind by meditating or practicing yoga and breathing exercises.

Practice relaxation therapy. Learn to tense and relax major muscle groups in a sequence. This type of therapy has been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels.

Step back from the situation. If possible, remove yourself from the stressful situation. Take a few minutes to be alone, and find a quiet spot to focus on relaxing and breathing.

Incorporate physical activity into your routine. Cardiovascular exercise raises the levels of endorphins and serotonin in the brain, which can help improve your mood. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Pick up a relaxing hobby. If you find knitting or painting helps calm you down, join a class or workshop to hone in on your talents. Or, if you prefer to cozy up with a good book, make time each day to read for a while.

Join a support group. Talking to others who share similar experiences can provide invaluable help for those dealing with chronic conditions like diabetes. Ask your doctor if there are support groups in your area, or search online.

Find quality senior care at American Senior Communities. Contact us for more information, or find a location near you today.


Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation

inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitationThe goal of any rehabilitation program is to help individuals get back to the level of independence they are accustomed to after an illness, injury or surgery. Rehabilitation for seniors can provide not only a greater level of independence, but also improved physical strength and mobility, increased cognition and communication skills, and a higher overall quality of life.

Rehabilitation is often needed to address issues following such incidents as neurological disorders due to head injury or stroke, joint replacement surgery, spinal cord injuries, or chronic conditions like arthritis or back pain. In general, two different types of rehabilitation are offered to treat these issues: inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation.

Choosing Inpatient Rehabilitation or Outpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient Rehabilitation

In the case of inpatient rehabilitation, individuals stay within a facility for a pre-determined amount of time, whether it’s for a shorter term of a few days up to a month or for long term care, a month or longer. Staying within the facility allows the individual to solely focus on their therapy and recovery. It’s a more intensive option that generally includes daily physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy when needed.

Plus, many inpatient rehabilitation centers offer a variety of services and amenities designed to make life as comfortable as possible for the residents throughout their stay. They enjoy not only the right amount of therapy to get them on their feet more quickly, but also delicious dining options, spacious common areas, and social activities and events.

It’s important to note that inpatient therapy might be a lengthy commitment. However, the focused, intensive therapy allows individuals to possibly meet their recovery goals in a shorter amount of time than an outpatient rehabilitation program.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Outpatient rehabilitation provides the same type of highly-trained professionals offering physical, occupational and speech and language therapies. A benefit of this type of rehabilitation for seniors is that each day they are allowed to return to the comfort of their own homes rather than stay in a rehab center.

However, it’s important to note that individuals are in control of their own recovery and how fast they progress. This means that sometimes outpatient rehabilitation does not produce the same quality results as inpatient rehabilitation. Individuals must be motivated to continue their therapy off hours at home in order to benefit as much as they would from inpatient rehabilitation. Still, for some, when less intensive therapy is needed, outpatient rehabilitation can be a beneficial, less time-consuming option.

Ultimately, a physician will advise or determine the rehabilitation that will garner the best results to help individuals regain as much independence as possible. Choosing one or the other depends mostly on the severity of the injury or illness, along with how much therapy is required for the best possible recovery outcome.

Find quality inpatient rehabilitation at American Senior Communities. Our Moving Forward Rehabilitation program is designed to help restore abilities and independence after illness, injury or surgery through personalized physical, occupational and speech therapies. Find a location near you today.

National Assisted Living Week 2016

national assisted living weekBack in 1995, The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) established Assisted Living Week as a way to recognize the role assisted living communities play in caring for seniors and those with disabilities throughout the United States. The goal was not only to educate society about what assisted living is, but also to encourage assisted living communities to celebrate their residents through a variety of activities and events.

As part of the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the NCAL is dedicated to serving the needs of the assisted living community through national advocacy and education, as well as networking, professional development and quality initiatives. Their vision is to promote “high-quality, principle-driven assisted living care and services with a steadfast commitment to excellence, innovation and the advancement of person-centered care.”

National Assisted Living Week 2016: Keep Connected

We are in the middle of National Assisted Living Week right now, as it runs in 2016 from September 11th through the 17th. The theme this year is “Keep Connected”, which not only recognizes the new ways technology can impact the lives of seniors, but also to remind us that staying in touch and maintaining relationships is key to healthy aging.

Innovations in technology help keep residents safe, healthy and connected to those they care about most. Sometimes, seniors might fear learning new technology, but the Keep Connected campaign encourages assisted living communities to use the latest communication tools to help residents stay engaged in the world around them.

Technology for Seniors: The Benefits

The use of technology is increasing for those age 65 and older. In fact, research reveals that seniors are going online more and more these days to reconnect with people from their past and to build relationships with their grandchildren. In 2005, for example, only 2% of older adults were using social media, but by 2015 that number rose to 35%. Seniors are also going online to read news, send email, play games, and much more.

Older adults can benefit from technology in numerous ways. First of all, the social connection technology provides, especially when loved ones are not geographically nearby, is extremely important. While technology cannot replace in-person interaction, social media, email and video chat services can help supplement some of that interaction when it is needed most.

Secondly, physical and mental well-being can be enhanced by taking in part in activities like playing video games, especially on a Nintendo Wii system. The body gets moving and the brain is engaged, plus seniors can enjoy extra social interaction with their peers when the games are enjoyed in a group setting. Playing online brain games also can help boost memory and cognition.

Technology also plays a large role in the safety of assisted living residents. Assisted living communities utilize technology to provide higher quality care, whether through health monitoring, medication management, being able to communicate more efficiently with health providers, and offering emergency response systems to keep residents safe 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

American Senior Communities offers innovative assisted living with services that are tailored to the needs of the individual. Find a location near you today.

Better Sleep for Better Mental Health

sleep and mental healthThink about how good you feel after a great night of sleep. You’re ready to face the day, conquer that to-do list, and you have that little extra “pep” in your step. Unfortunately, many people find it difficult to get the recommended amount of sleep (7-8 hours) every night, choosing to be as productive as possible into the wee hours of the night. However, recent studies have shown that getting a good night’s sleep is vital to our overall health and wellbeing, especially when it comes to our mental health.

Sleep and Mental Health

When we aren’t sleeping well, we’re more susceptible to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Sleep allows our brain the recovery time it needs to properly process all the information swirling around up there and getting it stored in our memory banks. Without sleep, our judgement can become impaired, and we can have less control of our emotions.

The importance of sleep for better mental health is apparent in several ways, including:

Improving memory. While we sleep, the brain establishes and strengthens neural pathways that impact our short term and long term memory. Plus, throughout each phase of sleep our brain works on transforming the new information we’ve learned into memories. This means when we aren’t getting enough sleep, it’s much easier to be forgetful or misplace things.

Boosting ability to learn. When we are tired, we have difficulty focusing, which makes it much harder to decipher and retain information. Getting a good night’s sleep provides for a clearer, sharper mind.

Increasing reaction time. Sleepiness slow us down, physically and mentally. One of the more specific ways it slow us down is by decreasing our reaction time, which makes doing certain tasks that require fast thinking difficult. Driving while tired, in particular, is extremely dangerous.

Speeding up thought processes. Getting a good night’s sleep makes you more alert throughout the day, allowing you to concentrate and pay attention more effectively. Sleep deprivation can cloud our minds, making even simple tasks seem confusing.

Improving mood. Better sleep also keeps us emotionally well; a lack of sleep can cause depression, anxiety and we feel generally more unstable. Feeling angry and irritable tends to go together with tiredness!

Improving Sleeping Habits for Better Mental Health

If you aren’t sure if you are getting the right amount of sleep, it’s important to consider how you feel when you wake up and how you function throughout the day. Do you wake up still tired? Do you feel “foggy” and find yourself practically nodding off at certain times? Are you irritable or emotional and have trouble concentrating or remembering things? If so, these are all signs that improving your sleeping habits is necessary for better mental health.

First, make sure you establish a nightly routine. Give yourself time to wind down from the day, aiming for the same time each evening. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon and evening; choose herbal tea instead. Keep the bedroom as a space that is solely for sleeping; removing electronic devices like televisions, computers, tablets and cell phones has recently been recommended by specialists. The reason for this is because electronics give off blue light which has been shown to cue the brain that it’s not time to sleep yet. Keep the room dark at night but allow for natural light in the morning, as this helps regulate your circadian rhythms.

It’s also important to stay active throughout the day. Regular exercise allows you to fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. If you find you have a hard time winding down, try deep breathing and relaxation exercises to induce sleep.

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September is World Alzheimer’s Month

world alzheimer's monthIn 2012, World Alzheimer’s Month was launched in an effort to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to make a difference in the lives the disease touches. In the four years since the inception of World Alzheimer’s Month, more and more countries have joined in, uniting not only those with dementia or those caring for loved ones with dementia, but also researchers, the media, opinion leaders and medical professionals.

The goal of World Alzheimer’s Month is to provide an opportunity for Alzheimer’s Associations across the globe to gain the recognition and credibility for the great work they do every day, as well as to provide them with a larger platform to influence governments and important decision makers.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, and is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory and cognition. It is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who in 1906 discovered unusual changes in the brain of Auguste Deter, a patient with mental illness he’d been treating. Auguste had symptoms including memory loss, trouble communicating and unpredictable behaviors, all common signs of Alzheimer’s disease today.

In 2015, there were an estimated 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia, and the number is expected to double over the next 20 years. In fact, around the world, there is one new dementia diagnosis every three seconds, and by the year 2050 there will be 131.5 million people living with dementia.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, in the United States alone, more than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and over 15 million caregivers are providing unpaid care to a loved one with Alzheimer’s. It’s estimated that in 2016, Alzheimer’s disease will have cost the nation $236 billion.

World Alzheimer’s Month 2016: Remember Me

The theme of the 2016 World Alzheimer’s Months is Remember Me. In September, people are encouraged to learn more about the signs of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as what it means to be living with Alzheimer’s and to provide Alzheimer’s care to a loved one. Arming oneself with as much information as possible about the disease can help reduce some of the stigma and misinformation that surrounds it.

It’s important to remember that Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of the aging process. If you were recently diagnosed, seek support not only from medical professionals, but from family and friends. If you are caring for someone with dementia, remember to attend to your own needs from time to time by seeking respite services. If you aren’t feeling your best, you won’t be able to provide the best care for your loved one. Find a support group as a way to share your experiences with others going through the same thing.

Also starting in September, around the country the Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research, will be held in more than 600 communities nationwide. In Indianapolis, the walk will be held on October 15th at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

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Is It Alzheimer’s or Normal Memory Loss?

memory loss in the elderlyHave you ever found yourself standing in the middle of a room, at a complete loss as to why you walked into it? You know there was a specific something you needed, but you have no idea what. Frustrated, you turn and leave the room, only to remember what it was you were looking for about 15 minutes later.

These types of memory lapses can happen fairly frequently to older adults, and experts agree that they are perfectly normal- just like forgetting where you left your keys, the name of the person your daughter introduced you to the other day, or where you last set down your glasses. These lapses in memory are annoying, but they don’t necessarily mean you are displaying any signs of Alzheimer’s disease just yet.

Alzheimer’s Symptoms vs. Normal Memory Loss in the Elderly

Our memories begin to wane as we age for a number of reasons. The region of the brain known as the hippocampus starts to deteriorate, which affects our ability to form and retrieve memories. Also, blood flow to the brain can start to decrease in seniors, affecting your memory and changing your cognitive skills. Finally, some of the hormones and proteins that protect and repair brain cells can also decline with age.

It can be difficult for a non-medical professional to determine if the memory loss is truly something to be concerned about. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the milder symptoms can be similar to the normal memory loss that comes with advancing age.

Here are a few ways to determine what is normal memory loss in the elderly and what could be signs of Alzheimer’s:

Normal Memory Loss

These types of memory lapses are generally considered normal among aging adults:

  • Forgetting where you left certain things, like your book, glasses, purse, etc.
  • Missing an appointment because it was not written down on a calendar
  • Difficulty recalling information about a story you just heard or read about
  • Entering a room and forgetting what you needed from it
  • Calling loved ones by the wrong name- like calling your grandson your son’s name
  • Forgetting the names of new acquaintances
  • Getting distracted easily and moving on to another project before finishing the first one
  • Trouble retrieving information that’s on the tip of your tongue

Alzheimer’s Symptoms

While it’s difficult to properly diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages, experts agree that the sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin that may slow the progression of the disease. Some of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Trouble recalling the right word for everyday objects
  • Getting disoriented or lost in familiar places
  • Difficulty performing everyday tasks, like balancing a checkbook or putting on clothes
  • Forgetting how to do activities you’ve always done
  • Misusing or mixing up words
  • Trouble making good life choices or displaying poor judgment
  • Forgetting a loved one’s name
  • Difficulty recalling recent events

In general, memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease is a disabling form of memory loss that affects your daily life. It can disrupt your social life, your career, your hobbies and your relationships. If you and your loved ones are concerned about any recent changes in your memory, it’s imperative to see your doctor so a proper diagnosis can be given as soon as possible.

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Keep Your Eyes Healthy with Great Nutrition

eye health and nutritionEating a well-balanced diet is of course vital to your overall health and well-being. For seniors, adopting healthy nutrition habits can help you feel better, have more energy, and reduce your risk for chronic conditions and diseases. There’s also another benefit to eating well- protecting your vision.

Some of the most common vision problems facing older adults are macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies have shown a link between certain nutrients that when consumed in specific amounts, can help reduce the risk of developing some of these eye issues.

Eye Health and Nutrition

Maintaining healthy eyes is so important to stay as independent and as safe as possible as you age. It’s expected that the rate of blindness and low vision will double to affect more than six million Americans by the year 2030 due to chronic diseases like diabetes and the growing aging population.

However, making lifestyle changes sooner rather than later can help reduce your risk not only for chronic health conditions, but also to protect your eyes. The foods you choose to eat, along with the proper dietary supplements when necessary, can positively affect your eye health.

Best Foods and Vitamins for Eye Health

When it comes to eye health, the best option is to get the proper vitamins and nutrients you need from food. Many of these foods are readily available at your local grocery store; it’s all about making the best choices.

Some of the best foods and vitamins for healthy eyes include:

Dark, leafy green vegetables. Two antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, may reduce the risk of some chronic eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration. They can also protect eyes against damage from sunlight, air pollution and cigarette smoke. These antioxidants are found in leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, as well as foods like broccoli, eggs and bright-colored fruits like grapes or kiwi.

Dark berries. Berries like black currants, blueberries and the lesser-known bilberries contain high amounts of a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has extensive benefits to eye health. It provides effective protection from contracting macular degeneration and cataracts.

Carrots and pumpkin. One of the best know vitamins for eye health is vitamin A, and deep orange or yellow veggies and fruit rich in beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the retina, cornea and eye tissues function properly. Other food choices rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, eggs, milk, and squash.

Citrus fruits and peppers. Vitamin C is also essential for maintaining healthy eyes, as it’s also an antioxidant that can slow the progression of macular degeneration and lower your risk of developing cataracts. Add oranges, grapefruit, red and green peppers, papaya, broccoli and brussel sprouts to your diet.

Seeds and nuts. To keep healthy eye tissue strong, vitamin C needs to work with vitamin E. It can be difficult to get enough vitamin E from foods alone, but adding a handful of sunflower seeds or almonds to a salad can give you the boost you need. You can also get vitamin E from sources like wheat germ oil, vegetable oil and peanut butter.

Fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids not only keep your heart and brain healthy, but they can also help protect your eyes by helping cells work together and reducing inflammation. Salmon, herring and sardines are the top choices, but you can also get ample amounts of omega-3s from tuna, halibut, anchovies, mackerel, trout and even some green vegetables.

Poultry, oysters and eggs. Zinc helps keep the retina of your eye in good condition by bringing vitamin A from the liver to produce melanin, which is a protective pigment in the eyes. Oysters, crab legs, poultry, eggs are great sources of zinc, along with options like baked beans and whole grains.

Of course, along with proper nutrition, make sure you’re getting an eye exam every year. At your annual appointment, you can discuss what foods or supplements would be best suited to your personal eye health needs.

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Common Symptoms of Diabetes

symptoms of diabetesEarly detection of diabetes is key to preventing the onset of complications. However, the problem is that some of the common diabetes symptoms are quite mild, so it might be difficult to even notice them in the first place.

The symptoms of diabetes are caused by higher than normal glucose levels in your blood. Around half of the people with type 2 diabetes are unaware they have the condition, and don’t get diagnosed until it’s progressed further. Symptoms can develop slowly, and those who may be at higher risk for diabetes should take care to monitor their health.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

If diabetes runs in your family, you’re overweight and not living a healthy lifestyle, have high blood pressure or heart disease, or are age 45 or older you could be more at risk for developing diabetes. It’s important to know the symptoms of diabetes so a proper diagnosis can be given as early as possible and you can start managing your condition right away. The earlier you start treatment, the better chance you have of reducing the risk for complications and long term side effects.

The most common diabetes symptoms include:

Increased feelings of tiredness. If you’re feeling tired all the time, this could be due to your body not making enough insulin or not using insulin properly. Your body converts glucose into energy, but it needs insulin to bring it in. If your body isn’t making enough insulin or is resisting what it is making, you aren’t able to get the glucose you need for energy, hence feeling fatigued often.

Frequent urination. When you have diabetes, your blood sugar is higher and your body may not be able to absorb it all. The leads to urinating more often as your body tries to get rid of the excess glucose.  When insulin is ineffective or missing altogether, your kidneys can’t filter the glucose back into the blood, so in order to dilute the glucose, the kidneys will take water from the blood which fills up your bladder.

Increased thirst. Because you are urinating more frequently, you’ll tend to get thirsty more quickly to replace lost fluids.

Extreme hunger. When insulin isn’t working properly in your blood or is missing altogether, your cells are not getting the energy they need and can react by trying to find more energy through food.

Sudden weight gain. When you’re feeling hungry all the time, you tend to eat more often to curb those feelings. Intense cravings for food can lead to making poor nutrition choices, too, which can cause you to gain weight quickly.

Slower healing. As time passes, higher glucose levels can affect your blood flow, undermining your body’s ability to heal even simple cuts and bruises in a normal amount of time.

Pain or numbing in legs and feet. Nerve damage, as well as damage to the tiny vessels feeding those nerves, caused by too much sugar in your blood can cause you to experience tingling, numbing or pain in your legs and feet. Your hands can be affected, too.

Swollen gums or gum infections. Another common diabetes symptom is to have tender, swollen or red gums. You may also often experience gum disease and other gum infections.

Blurry vision. Tissue pulling away from your eye lenses is a result of the changing fluid levels in your body, which can lead to your eyes losing the ability to focus. In severe causes, prolonged vision problems or even blindness can occur.

Itchy skin. When your body is creating excess fluids to urinate often, it can take moisture away from other systems of your body. Your skin might feel itchy and dry as you’re more apt to get dehydrated.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetes, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Often, simply making some healthy lifestyle changes can help your reduce your risk and avoid future complications.

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