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Focusing on diabetes in the older adult population

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:28 am

(BPT) - In the U.S., there are nearly 26 million people living with diabetes and more seniors have diabetes than any other age group - 10.9 million, or 26.9 percent, of all people age 65 and older.

'Currently, one in four Americans over the age of 60 is living with diabetes and there is a great need for further education among older adults,' says Dr. Vanessa Jones Briscoe, Chair of the Older Adult Subcommittee and Board Member for the American Diabetes Association.

In 2012 the American Diabetes Association launched its Senior Signature Series. The series looks to expand education and outreach efforts to seniors across the country. The series includes half-day educational events for individuals age 50 years and older to learn more about diabetes, numerous resources, helpful materials and health screenings. Its goal is to educate older adults about how they can reduce their risk of diabetes and its complications. Because of its great success in 2012, the series will be back in 2013, and will include even more dates and locations across the country.

'Through continuing our Senior Signature Series, the American Diabetes Association will provide the tips and resources needed to help seniors address the challenge of preventing type 2 diabetes and keeping diabetes treatment from impairing their lifestyle, or slowing them down,' Briscoe says. 'The educational resources in the series are important not only for those older adults living with diabetes, but for their family members or caregivers as well.'

One way to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, or to better manage it, is physical activity. Benefits include:

* Improving your A1C, a test that measures your average blood glucose (sugar) control, blood pressure and cholesterol
* Having more energy
* Burning calories to help you lose or maintain your weight
* Keeping your joint flexible
* Improving your balance to prevent falls
* Lowering your risk for heart disease and stroke

Almost all older adults who develop diabetes have type 2 diabetes, and older adults with diabetes often have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections that heal slowly and they are at risk for heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Seniors with diabetes are also more likely to have memory problems and depression. Awareness and education is critical in helping seniors to lead healthier lives.

For more information, or to download the 'Living Healthy with Diabetes' guide for adults 55 and up, visit diabetes.org.

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