When is the last time your older family member had an A1C test? If it’s been a while, you may want to schedule an appointment with their doctor. The A1C test is an important measure of health, particularly if the senior has prediabetes or diabetes. Knowing more about the test may help you to understand why it’s so important.
What is the A1C Test?
The A1C test is a kind of blood test that shows a person’s average blood sugar levels over the previous two or three months. You may also hear it referred to as glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1C, or HbA1C.
The hemoglobin in red blood cells helps to transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. As the blood travels, glucose in the bloodstream coats the hemoglobin molecules. The higher the amount of sugar in the blood, the more hemoglobin molecules become coated. An A1C test measures just how much of the hemoglobin is coated.
What Do the Test Results Mean?
The results of an A1C test are reported using a percentage. The percentage that is right for your older family member depends on a number of factors, including age. Usually, the target is 7 percent for adults. However, the doctor will determine your aging relative’s target goal.
Doctors use the test to diagnose diabetes or to monitor how well a diabetes treatment plan is working. In diagnosing diabetes, doctors use the results as follows:
• Normal: Lower than 5.7 percent.
• Prediabetes: 5.7 to less than 6.5 percent.
• Diabetes: 6.5 percent and higher.
How Often is it Needed?
Doctors typically perform an A1C test when an older adult has risk factors for getting diabetes. If they have been diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor will determine how often the test is needed. Some general guidelines are:
• Once per year for people with prediabetes.
• Twice a year for those with type 2 diabetes if they do not use insulin and their blood sugar level has been kept within the target range.
• Four times per year for people with type 1 diabetes.
• Four times per year for people with type 2 diabetes who use insulin or who are having difficulty managing the condition.
If your aging relative has been diagnosed with diabetes, an elder care provider can help them to get the A1C test as often as recommended. An elder care provider can assist them with making an appointment with their doctor. In addition, the elder care provider can drive them to the doctor’s office.
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