Health > How can seniors maintain healthy blood sugar levels?
7th Jan 2022

How can seniors maintain healthy blood sugar levels?

High or low blood sugar levels can cause complications and possible life-threatening diseases for seniors. According to the latest studies, about half of the seniors above age 65 face high blood sugar levels which can lead to health complications. It is crucial for seniors to understand what are normal blood sugar levels and how to maintain them.

As per the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), below-given are the normal blood sugar levels for healthy individuals:

Fasting Sugar Levels

Blood sugar levels measured early in the morning or at least 8 hours from a person last ate are known as fasting sugar levels. As per the recommendations of ADA, fasting plasma glucose levels should be less than 100mg/dL.

After 2 hours of having meals

Blood sugar levels measured after 2 hours of eating food should be below 140 mg/dL as per the recommendations of ADA.

Normal Blood Sugar Level Charts

Fasting Sugar LevelsBelow 100mg/dL
After 2 hours of having mealsBelow 140 mg/dL

Factors affecting blood sugar levels in seniors

Several factors, including illness, stress, lack of sleep, caffeine, dawn phenomenon and insulin, can affect blood sugar levels. Seniors with prediabetes or diabetes may have insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin, and it means that their body has difficulty regulating glucose sugar levels on its own. It is very delicate to maintain, so the below-mentioned list can help seniors to know more about the factors that can cause blood glucose levels to go up or down.

Reasons for high blood sugar level in seniors

Based on the ADA research and guidelines, if the blood sugar level is above 180mg/dL for seniors, it is considered above the normal range. Reasons behind high blood sugar levels are:

  • Consuming larger meal than usual
  • Not taking enough insulin based on daytime activities or carbohydrates levels
  • No physical activity
  • Long-term or short-term illness, stress and pain
  • Dehydration
  • Menstrual periods
  • Side effects of medications like antipsychotics or steroids

In the short term, high blood sugar levels can zap the body’s energy, blur eye vision and cause excessive thirst and urination. High blood sugar levels can also lead to infections, dry and itchy skin and dehydration. Over time, it may affect many parts of the body and cause noticeable changes, including memory problems, kidney disease, heart attack, gum disease, diabetic retinopathy, blindness, nerve damage etc.

Reasons for low blood sugar levels in seniors

Based on ADA, the blood sugar level below 70mg/dL are considered low normal levels. This can happen due to several reasons; some of them are listed below:

  • Low consumption of carbohydrates.
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Increased physical activity
  • Not eating enough
  • Taking too much oral diabetes medication or insulin
  • Side effects from medications

Symptoms of low blood sugar include feeling confused, sweaty or clammy, weak, hungry and irritable. Severely low blood sugar can cause seizures, unconsciousness, coma, or death, especially during the night. Blood sugar levels need to be monitored regularly. Frequent testing with a blood sugar meter and taking action when blood sugar is low or high can keep life on track.

Action Plan for Low and High Blood Sugar Levels in Seniors

Hypoglycemia is also called low blood sugar. The numbers below represent values in the hypoglycemic range that can be potentially harmful and dangerous for humans to endure for long periods. Some actions are required to bring blood sugar levels to normal.

Low Blood Sugar

Low Blood Sugar Level Action to take 
50 mg/dL or under
  • If a senior person is not alert, treat with glucagon via injection or nasal spray. If necessary, call the emergency medical response team.
  • If a senior person can speak and is alert, treat with 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrates such as fruit juice, glucose gel or 4 oz regular soda. After 15 minutes, re-test blood sugar levels and repeat as needed to bring blood sugar within range.
51-70 mg/dL
  • Take 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate and re-test blood sugar levels in 15 minutes.
  • Repeat treatment as per the need to bring blood sugar levels within range.
71-90 mg/dL
  • Take 15 grams of rapid-acting carbohydrate and check blood sugar levels in 15 minutes.
  • Follow a meal.

High blood sugar levels can be a severe problem if they aren’t diagnosed and treated. When confronted with high blood sugar levels, it’s important to act swiftly and find a plan of action. First, make sure to eat your meals on time. It’s also important to choose foods that aren’t very calorific and are easy on the stomach. During high sugar levels, one can take the following steps.

High Blood Sugar

High Blood Sugar Level Action to take 
180-250 mg/dL
  • When sugar levels are high, it can be an indication that the body does not have enough insulin or glucose-lowering medication. The levels may be elevated due to having a large meal, if a person is ill or have an infection, is stressed or inactive.
  • Consult a health care provider immediately.
Higher than 250 mg/dL
  • Sugar readings over 250 mg/dL require immediate medical attention.
  • Do not exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • When blood glucose levels are this high, it could be a sign of ineffective glucose management or a problem with the insulin or insulin pump infusion set. Reach out to the healthcare provider for further treatment instructions.

Blood sugar, or blood glucose, is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells. Normally, the amount of glucose in the blood remains constant, but a person’s blood sugar levels can be affected by a number of factors. A healthy lifestyle and proper diet can help in tackling abnormal sugar levels.

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Read More:

What Is The Normal Blood Sugar Level At The Age Of 60 ?Diabetic Foot
Diet Chart For Diabetic PatientsTips For Diabetic Elders During Covid-19

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. What is A1C?

Ans. A1C, also known as glycosylated hemoglobin, glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c test, commonly diagnoses type 2 and type 1 diabetes. This blood test reflects the average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. Specifically, it measures the percentage of hemoglobin proteins coated with sugar (glycated) in the blood.

Q2. Is 5.8 A1C good?

Ans. As per the recommendations of ADA, an A1C level below 5.7% is normal. An A1C level between 5.7% and 6.4 % indicates prediabetes, and an A1C level of above 6.5% or higher on two tests indicates type 2 diabetes.

Q3. Is 6.7 A good A1C?

Ans. For a healthy person, the normal range for the A1C level is between 4% and 5.6%. Levels of 6.5% or above mean a person has diabetes.

Q4. How to bring blood sugar down quickly?

Ans. The quickest way to reduce high blood sugar levels is to take fast-acting insulin. In addition to this, exercising is another effective way to low down blood sugar levels.

Q5. Can peanut butter spike blood sugar?

Ans. Natural peanut butter is a low glycemic index (GI) food, and it does not increase blood sugar levels.