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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Engaging Aging – Older adults at increased risk of diabetes and why

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More than one-third of people 65 years and older have Diabetes and more than half of older adults in general have Pre-Diabetes. Unfortunately, this number is expected to increase in the coming decades. This information begs the question: why are older adults at increased risk? 

According to Dr. Nuzhat Chalise, an Endocrinologist with Morris Hospital, there are many factors which contribute to this increased risk:

  • Age related changes in metabolism leading to decreased ability to regulate blood sugar
  • Poor dietary choices
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Genetics
  • Other health conditions and certain medications

Furthermore, older adults face an increased risk of Diabetes-related complications particularly when diabetes is poorly managed or when other chronic illnesses are present. These complications include heart attacks, stroke, visual impairment, kidney disease, premature death, and hypoglycemia.

While the ADA guidelines target glucose levels in a healthy adult as less than 7, Dr. Chalisa indicated that this number must be modified in older adults based on the presence of comorbidities (including Alzheimer’s and Dementia) and functional status (the ability to physically perform activities such as self-care, and mobility).

Often dismissed as simply age-related changes, it is important that Diabetes is properly diagnosed. Dr. Chalisa encourages older adults to get regular check-ups and discuss with their physicians what the treatment goals are, such as medication modification. Prevention suggestions include simplifying a medication regime to be discussed with a physician, early screening, regular monitoring, and regular nutrition. 

Recently, the Naperville and Lisle Triad organization hosted the Senior Housing Options Expo where free Diabetes screenings were held. This service is expected to continue and be offered in the future.

Early detection and treatment of diabetes and prediabetes can reduce your risk for long-term complications. It’s important to continue to work with your physician. 

Carpe Diem!

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Arlene Orr
Arlene Orr
Arlene Orr is a Naperville resident and member of the Naperville Senior Task Force.
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