Health Care

Managing Diabetes as You Age

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Today, more than a quarter of U.S. adults age 65 and older have diabetes. At AdventHealth, we've helped thousands of people delay and even defeat many of the physical and emotional complications associated with diabetes.

We believe knowledge is power, and when you’re better informed, you’re better prepared to take control over your lifelong health and wellness. Family Medicine physician, Jorge M. Rodriguez, MD has expert information and advice on how you can live your best life despite your diabetes diagnosis.

The Prevalence of Diabetes

There are several different types of diabetes and the most common is type 2. “It occurs when your body becomes resistant to a hormone called insulin. Initially the body makes more insulin to compensate, but over time the amount of insulin produced can’t keep up with the increased demand,” says Dr. Rodriguez.

Normally, insulin helps move blood sugar from the food that you eat into your cells for energy. Without enough insulin, blood sugar builds up in your bloodstream. According to Dr. Rodriguez, “Over time, it can cause health problems.”

How Diabetes Affects Your Health

Older adults are more likely to experience complications due to type 2 diabetes, such as:

  • Dental problems and gum disease
  • Eye problems that can lead to blindness
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Skin infections
  • Stroke

In general, the recommendations for managing type 2 diabetes are the same for younger and older adults. According to Dr. Rodriguez, the most important thing you can do is work closely with your primary physician. Together you can determine what your blood glucose level goals should be and the best course of treatment for you.”

Your Plan of Action

Taking steps every single day to manage your diabetes will help reduce your risk of developing complications as you age. Here are three key things you can do every day that will make a difference.

  1. Take your medicine. The initial treatment of type 2 diabetes is usually through medication. As you age, you’re more likely to need insulin to treat type 2 diabetes. That’s because your body makes less insulin as you get older. Insulin can’t be taken in a pill; you’ll either inject it or receive it through a pump. You may also take pills to help lower your blood glucose or manage other pre-existing conditions. It’s important to take all your medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Keep a current list of all the medicines that you take. These include prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines and supplements. Update the list any time your medicines change.
  • Use one pharmacy for all your medicines.
  • Use a pill organizer to make sure you take your medicines when you’re supposed to.
  • Set a reminder, such as an alarm on your mobile phone, so you know when it’s time to take your medicine.

2. Eat a healthy diet. “When you have diabetes, you should focus on eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs,” says Dr. Rodgriguez. The American Diabetes Association recommends using a tool called “Create Your Plate.” This approach helps make sure you fill your plate with a variety of food groups. It also keeps your serving sizes in check, which can help you manage your weight. Here’s how to create your plate:

  • Imagine a line down the center of your plate that divides it in half. Then, divide one of the two sides in half again so that you have three sections in total.
  • In the largest section, put a non-starchy vegetable. Some examples are salad, broccoli, carrots or tomatoes.
  • In one of the smaller sections, put a starchy food such as pasta, rice or potatoes.
  • In the other small section, put a protein, such as skinless chicken or turkey, fish, lean cuts of meat, tofu, eggs or low-fat cheese.

3. Be physically active. Exercise can also help you control your weight. If you have diabetes and are overweight, losing just 10 to 15 pounds can make a difference. Exercise offers additional benefits for managing diabetes. For example, increasing your physical activity can help:

  • Boost your energy
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Improve your blood sugar levels
  • Lower your cholesterol levels
  • Reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five times per week. Some examples include walking, riding your bike, playing tennis or gardening. Do strength-training exercises at least twice per week. You could lift weights, use resistance bands, or do yoga or tai chi. Always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure it’s safe for you.

A True Partnership for Whole Health With Diabetes

Whatever your diagnosis and treatment plan include, Family medicine physician, Jorge Rodriguez, MD is here to help you live your best life. Contact the office today at Call813-908-5000 or visit to schedule your appointment

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