How diabetes can add to the complications of aging

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in Kaiser Health News, The Atlantic.com, New America Media, AARP.com and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York City, and co-produces HealthStyles for WBAI-FM/Pacifica Radio.

Photo: Arctic Whirlwind via Flickr

Photo: Arctic Whirlwind via Flickr

Diabetes incidence among older adults is skyrocketing and it’s only going to get worse, according to the American Diabetes Association. Nearly 12 million adults over age 65 in the U.S. — about one-quarter of the population — now live with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

Untreated or poorly managed diabetes can lead to many other major health problems, such as heart disease, amputations, kidney failure and vision impairment. The condition also increases the risk for emergency department visits and hospitalizations, along with a greater risk of death.

Many older adults have multiple co-existing medical conditions so managing their diabetes can be challenging. In addition to exacerbating existing conditions, geriatric syndromes can occur with greater frequency. This affects both quality of life and the ability to take care of one’s self.

A new AHCJ tip sheet looks at some of the health effects and challenges related to this chronic disease, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control predicts will double for the 65 and older population in the next 15 to 20 years.

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