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Diabetes and the older adult

According to the National Diabetes Education Program ( NDEP) , diabetes occurs in 11 million people age 65 and older in the United States. As older adults , they may already have existing medical problems; thus, at higher risk for developing diabetic related complications ( nerve damage, vision problems, heart disease).

About 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This is also known as noninsulin dependent diabetes. It is more common in certain populations, such as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders. Obesity, family history and being over the age of 45 are also risk factors.

Over the years, poorly managed diabetes (“uncontrolled or poorly controlled”) can lead to complications such as stroke, blindness, kidney disease, nerve problems, and nontraumatic amputations ( often due to gangrene). Early diagnosis especially is the older population, is essential for proper treatment to not only control the disease, but reduce the risk of complications.

Although diabetes cannot be “cured”, it is a manageable disease. Proper treatment, lifestyle changes, medication compliance, healthy diet options and daily activity/exercise are all excellent ways to improve overall heath.

For more information on diabetes and the older adult, check out the NDEP website.