National Diabetes Month: What Fall-Risk Diabetics Need to Know

National Diabetes Month

November is here and in honor of National Diabetes month, communities across the United States will soon be teaming up to spread awareness. Diabetes is a common challenge for seniors. According to the American Diabetes Association, “The percentage of Americans aged 65 and older [with diabetes] remains high, at 26.8%, or 14.3 million seniors (both diagnosed and undiagnosed).” (1)

Did you know that having diabetes can also increase seniors’ risk of falling? If you don't have diabetes, taking measures to prevent diabetes can help you maintain good overall health and wellness. If you do have diabetes, it is important to understand how it can affect your fall risk, then use fall prevention strategies to keep yourself safe, such as using a medical alert device.

Aging Leaves You More Susceptible to Diabetes

As you age you become more susceptible to developing diabetes. According to, “Simply put, elderly people have been exposed to sugar longer than other generations of people, so their chances of developing hyperglycemia— ‘abnormally high’ blood glucose levels— and, ultimately, type 2 diabetes, is greater.” (2) There are two main types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 2 is generally the most prevalent in seniors.


  • Type 1 Diabetes: This type of diabetes is the most serious as the cells that produce insulin have been destroyed.  Therefore, your body cannot produce any insulin at all. When this happens sugar stays in the blood and your cells starve. This can damage your eyesight, nerves, kidneys, and heart. Type one diabetics need to use artificial insulin daily to manage their blood sugar level.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among the older population. Type two diabetics can produce some insulin, but not enough to keep their blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Type 2 diabetics may need to use some artificial insulin to manage their blood sugar, but not as often as type 1 diabetics.
  • Pre-diabetes: You can also have high blood sugar levels, but not be diagnosed with diabetes. In this case, you are pre-diabetic. If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it is very important that you take measures to prevent the development of diabetes.

How Does Diabetes Increase Fall Risk?

Diabetes can affect your vision, sensory perception, balance, and strength. When these abilities are impaired, it can increase your risk of falling.

  • Vision – Diabetes can cause swelling in the macula which is part of your retina. This can lead to partial vision loss or blindness. If you cannot see obstacles in your path, uneven terrain, or the edges of stairs, then you are more likely to fall.
  • Sensory Perception – Diabetes can lead to diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This is when high blood sugar damages your nerves. When your nerves can’t respond it can affect your movements and increase your risk of falling.
  • Balance – When your nerves in your feet have trouble sensing the ground, it can lead to lack of balance and coordination. When you lack balance and coordination, you are more likely to fall.
  • Strength – Diabetes can reduce your muscle strength. When this happens, you can experience trouble holding yourself upright and fall.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetes above, an Alert1 emergency button alarm with fall detection can improve your safety. If you do fall, you can press your panic button and talk to a certified emergency response agent through the 2-way speaker. The agent will assess your situation and send help. They will also stay on the line with you until help arrives.

7 Ways to Prevent Diabetes in Seniors

If you do not already have diabetes, there are multiple preventive measures you can take to reduce your chances of developing it. These senior health solutions will help prevent the development of health conditions like diabetes.

1.      Know Your Family History of Diabetes

If your parents, grandparents, or anyone else in your family has diabetes, there is also a good chance that you are at risk of developing diabetes. When you know that you are at risk, you can take preventative measures sooner.

2.      Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes as it is related to high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, and high blood sugars. If you are overweight, use exercise and dieting to reduce your weight as well as your risk of developing diabetes.

3.      Exercise

Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, healthy blood pressure, good cholesterol, and healthy blood sugars. According to American Family Physician, “For substantial health benefits, the guidelines recommend that most older adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of each per week. Older adults should also engage in strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups at least two days a week. Those at risk of falling should add exercises that help maintain or improve balance.” (3) Following these guidelines can help keep you healthy and reduce your risk of becoming diabetic.

While you exercise, a mobile medical alert wrist watch can be a useful tool to have. It can tell you the weather so you can prepare for outdoor activities, and it can track your steps to help you meet your exercise goals. If you experience an emergency while exercising, it can also put you in contact with a trained agent who can help you get the care you need.

4.      Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is crucial to seniors’ health and wellness. It is important that you get the nutrients your body needs to perform everyday functions. Be sure to maintain a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. It is also important to get plenty of fiber. You can look for healthy recipes online. 

Try to avoid processed foods, high sugar foods, empty calories, trans fats, and alcohol. Counting your carbs and controlling your portions is also helpful.

5.      Manage Blood Pressure

Many people with type 2 diabetes also experience issues with hypertension or high blood pressure. Studies suggests that there is a common cause or link between the two, however, it is unknown why there is a significant relationship. Yet, managing your blood pressure can help you reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg.” (4) The first number is known as systolic pressure and measures the pressure when your heart is beating. The second number is known as diastolic pressure and correlates to the pressure when your heart is at rest.

6.      Manage Cholesterol

Like blood pressure, high cholesterol is also linked to diabetes. Many diabetics are prone to high cholesterol which can also lead to cardiovascular disease. You can help manage your cholesterol by reducing saturated fats, eliminate ING trans fats, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and increase your fiber.

7.      Manage Stress

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Stress stimulates the release of various hormones, which can result in elevated blood glucose levels. (5) Learning to manage your stress can help reduce the release of these hormones and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

7 Ways Seniors Can Prevent Falls When You Have Diabetes

If you do have diabetes, you will want to use fall prevention strategies to reduce your risk of falling.

1.      Fall Prevention Exercises for the Elderly

Using fall prevention exercises can help you reduce the risk of falling by strengthening your muscles and improving your overall balance. When your muscles are strong, you can improve your endurance and have an easier time maintaining an upright position. This makes you less likely to experience a fall.

2.      Diet Management

Senior whole health depends on ensuring that you get the nutrients your body requires to function. Be sure to eat healthy meals. Doing so helps ensure that your bones, muscles, and brain are healthy. When your body and brain are healthy, you can perform daily tasks like walking with more accuracy.

3.      Care for Your Feet

As mentioned before, diabetes can damage your nerves. This can make it difficult to walk as you can't sense the terrain under your feet. When this happens, you can lose your balance and fall more easily. When you have diabetes, it is important to take care of your feet to help prevent problems like this. You can care for your feet by inspecting them daily, bathing them in warm water, moisturizing them, cutting your nails carefully, and wearing the right socks and shoes.

If you start to notice any pain in your feet, consider getting a seniors fall alert. If you step and fall because of pain, the system can contact Alert1’s Command Center for help automatically when its fall detection sensor registers a fall. An emergency response agent will ask you questions through a 2-way speaker to assess your situation and then contact either your Circle of Care or medical help. Your Circle of Care are pre-chosen contacts that are registered when you first purchase the device.

4.      See Your Doctor about Neuropathy

If you feel that your nerves are having trouble sensing things, talk to your doctor to see if he/she has any neuropathy treatments. They will likely suggest some of the solutions found on this list or a medication that can help with pain.

5.      Visit an Ophthalmologist

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Among adults aged 45 and over with diagnosed diabetes, 9.2% had vision loss due to cataracts, 4.1% had vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy, 2.2% had vision loss due to macular degeneration, and 2.1% had vision loss due to glaucoma.” (6) If diabetes is affecting your vision, visit an ophthalmologist to have your eyes checked. They will help to ensure that you can see as well as possible.

6.      Track Your Diabetes and Talk to an Endocrinologist

Visiting an endocrinologist regularly will help you manage your diabetes and limit other diabetic symptoms that increase the risk of falling. Your endocrinologist can help you understand what aspects of your diabetes management need improvement, as well as provide you with other senior health tips.

7.      Buy an Alert1 Medical Alert Device

While having a wireless medical alert system for seniors won’t prevent you from falling, it can prove to be an extremely useful tool if you do fall. With the press of a button, you can contact an emergency response agent who can assess the situation and contact whoever you need for help. They will stay on the line with you until help arrives.

You can choose from an in-home medical alert necklace or a mobile emergency button alarm. You can add fall detection to both options or get and all-in-one fall prevention alarm system for the best all-around protection.

Diabetes affects a significant amount of the population in the United States. According to the CDC, Diabetes affects 34.2 million Americans. (7) It is important learn ways to prevent diabetes and manage your diabetes if you already have it. This way, you can help keep yourself safe and improve your overall health and wellness. The better you manage your health, the better you will feel.




1 American Diabetes Association staff. n.d. Statistics. American Diabetes Association. Statistics About Diabetes.

2 staff. n.d. Seniors and Diabetes: A Complete Guide. Seniors and Diabetes: A Complete Guide.

3  Elsawy, Bassem, MD. Higgins, Kim E, DO. Jan. 2018. AFP Journal. American Family Physician. Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. n.d. High Blood Pressure. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes.

5 Surwit, RS. Schneider, MS. Feinglos, MN. Oct. 1992. Diabetes Care. Stress and Diabetes Mellitus.

6 Cha, Amy E, Ph.D, MPH. Villarroel, Maria A, Ph.D, Vahration,  Anjel, Ph.D, MPH. NCHS Data Brief. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eye Disorders and Vision Loss Among U.S. Adults Aged 45 and Over With Diagnosed Diabetes, 2016–2017.

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff. n.d. Features and Spotlights. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020.