Older Americans have poor control over diabetes

Older diabetesCurrent research reports that only one in every three American seniors have their diabetes under control, according to John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In 2012, of the 11.8-million American seniors in the U.S., 25.9% had diabetes. The numbers continue to increase annually. Seniors in this case are over the age of 65.


The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has set guidelines for controlling diabetes, which some experts suggest may be too difficult for older Americans to follow. Researchers, though, found that even with less stringent guidelines, older adults are still not managing their diabetes well.

Additional research findings also uncovered racial disparities when it comes to diabetes management. Senior black women have worse blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in comparison to senior white women.

Researchers said this suggests a need for better support system to help those over 65 to manage their diabetes. But the debate over diabetes targets, especially glucose control, might be hindering progress.

“Are some older adults being over-treated? Are some being undertreated? These are questions for which we don’t have answers,” said Elizabeth Selvin, a professor of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School.

The research team examined data taken from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. This group consisted of 15,792 middle-aged individuals. Selvin and her team looked at data from 1,574 participants between 2011 and 2013.

By using three main criteria – hemoglobin A1C (measurement of blood glucose levels), blood pressure and cholesterol numbers – the researchers could determine if the participants had proper maintenance over their diabetes in coherence with guidelines set by the ADA.

The findings revealed only 35 percent of participants met all three criteria targets. Researchers then lowered the guidelines to make them less stringent, and 68 percent met the criteria targets.

Researchers suggest poor diabetes control could be a priority problem. They said seniors experience other illnesses, which require more immediate attention than diabetes. But by not properly controlling diabetes, other health risks can develop such as kidney disease, nerve damage and even blindness.


Researchers believe more studies need to be conducted to determine better guidelines, treatment options as well as further explore racial disparities.

The study was published in Diabetes Care.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.