Living With Diabetes as a Senior
By Monique Laframboise and Jamie Bussin
It’s estimated 11.7 million Canadians (or 1/3 of our population) live with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes and nearly half (48%) of these Canadians are 65 or over. On Episode 287 of The Tonic Talk Show/Podcast I had the pleasure of interviewing one of those seniors living with Diabetes, Monique Laframboise.
Monique is 70 years young today, but was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at age 48, during a routine check-up with her doctor. There’s both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in her family. So she was being tested for her blood sugar levels, even though she wasn’t feeling unwell at the time. Monique says; “I was shocked by the diagnosis. I knew it was a disease that had to be dealt with, but at the time I didn’t know what to do. I was waiting for someone to guide me.”
Monique has been living with the knowledge that she has diabetes for over two decades. “Day to day, I guess I’m conscious about what I eat; the portions. I’m not saying that I don’t eat sweets and cakes and stuff like that. But I’m careful about the quantity of the food that I eat throughout the day. I do exercise during the week, to permit myself to have a little more sweets …once in a while.” explains Monique.
Monique is attuned to her blood sugar level. “I know about hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). I think that’s more prevalent for people who are on insulin. Day to day, I find that sometimes around 3:00pm my system tells me that I need a little treat. I usually have something like walnuts. You can have fruit too. Some fruits are better than others. I like dates. But the problem with dates is that you can only have two, because they’re full of sugar!”
To make sure that she doesn’t have low blood sugar Monique makes sure that each meal, especially lunch and dinner, includes protein. “I find that protein sustains you throughout the day.” she explains. “I think that goes for everybody.” She eats carbohydrates too, for a balanced meal.
Monique’s family doctor helps manage her diabetes. She goes for an A1C blood test (which measures blood sugar levels) every three months. She also receives newsletters from The Diabetes Care Community and from Diabetes Canada which provide healthy recipes and tips for maintaining blood sugar levels. She also participates in Diabetes Canada’s online conferences and through conversations with others who have diabetes. “I always say that if you can find support in your region, face to face, meeting up with people with Diabetes that’s ideal, but online is good too.”
Monique recommends that those diagnosed with diabetes find a good support system in their area if possible, but if not go online to The Diabetes Care Community or Diabetes Canada. She also recommends regular exercise – particularly something that you enjoy – for both one’s physical and mental health. She’s an avid Nordic walker (urban poling) and she just started taking Zumba classes. Monique’s top tip: “Keep a good attitude about aging. Don’t let yourself get down about getting older. Because I certainly don’t feel that I’m old at 70!”