Diabetes Affects Nearly 20 percent of the Elderly in the US

May 1, 2014

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the blood sugar levels are too high and the body does not comprehend a proper way to use the digested food for growth and energy.Ai?? The food that we eat is broken down into glucose Ai??(sugar) in the blood that acts as the main source of fuel for the entire body.Ai?? The insulin helps to transfer glucose into the cells. But in case this fails, the cells in the body starve and shut down leading to diabetes also called high blood sugar.Ai?? It is regarded as a serious condition.

Diabetes in the Elderly populationAccording to Ai??American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) nearly 20% of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from diabetes. Ai??The prevalence of type-2 diabetes (90% of all diabetes) increases with age. The other reason that the senior population is more prone to diabetes is because they are insulin resistant or have impaired glucose intolerance due to general effects of aging, weight gain and sedentary lifestyles. Most of the elderly with diabetes are not able to properly control their raised blood sugar levels.

In addition to the rise in those diagnosed with the disease, the cost of treating diabetes is also increasing due to the aging population and obesity. It can lead to various health problems such as a heart attack or a stroke.Ai?? There are also more monetary issues with the elderly as compared to the younger working and active generation.

The estimated cost of diabetes in 2007 was about $174 billion, and the average out-of-pocket annual expense for a person with diabetes was nearly $12,000. Ai??While in 2010 around 25.8 million people around 8.3% of the US population had diabetes and the costs also increased to $245 billion.

With the rise in cases of diabetes and the increasing costs of its treatment becoming a concern for the U.S. healthcare system, there are several other underlying issues that the friends and families of the seniors worry about ai??i?? depression, dementia, mental illness, cognitive impairment, forgetfulness et al. Ai??It is very likely that the elderly miss their mealtimes, or are unable to remember to check blood sugar levels or take their medication as prescribed. Financial limitations are another challenge for older diabetics.

Many senior citizens are on limited incomes, and the high price of medications and necessary healthcare may contribute to non-adherence to medications and the lack of proper medical supervision. Even transportation to and from medical appointments can become an issue. Unfortunately, they are putting their health at risk.

According to a new study the elderly people with symptoms of depression are 60% more likely to develop diabetes. While the link has not yet been completely understood, it means that an elderly, who suffers from depression, has a good chance to develop diabetes.Ai?? At least half of the diabetic elderly population does not even know that they have the disease.

Another reason the effects of diabetes on the elderly are felt more strongly is because seniors are more likely to suffer from inadequate nutrition and lack of proper exercise. The most important things you can do to help your parents, or another elderly person, minimize the effects of diabetes include:

  • Helping them maintain proper nutrition by supplementing a healthy, balanced diet with vitamins for diabetes. For those older people who are not able to cook there are services like Meals on Wheels that can help them by providing delivered meals on a regular basis.
  • Ensuring medication is taken as prescribed. Providing a medication manager to an elderly person with diabetes can help them remember to take their insulin and other medications at the appropriate times.

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