Diabetes is a disease in which the amount of sugar in the bloodstream is too high. There are several types of diabetes, but the most common are Type 1 (previously called juvenile diabetes) and Type 2 (previously called adult-onset diabetes).
In type 1 Diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin, a hormone that modulates the metabolism of glucose. Type 1 diabetes is not associated with lifestyle factors. Most cases of type 1 diabetes are diagnosed in children and young adults, and type 1 diabetics require insulin injections to control their diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin, but it is not used effectively by the body. There are a number of risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, many of which can be controlled through lifestyle changes. These risk factors include overweight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Between 90-95% of adult diabetics have type 2 diabetes.
Why is diabetes such a tremendous health concern? Because high levels of sugar in the blood destroy nerves and tissue wherever that blood reaches, in other words: everywhere. Complications from diabetes are as far ranging as foot problems, eye problems, stroke, it’s heart disease, and kidney failure.
Moreover, diabetes is so widespread, particularly in people middle-aged and older, that it is considered a public health crisis.
Just how bad is it? Consider these 11 facts:
- Diabetes affects just under 10% of the general US population, but 25% of seniors.
- One in every three people with diabetes is unaware that they have it, thus increasing their risk of dangerous complications.
- 37% of US adults have prediabetes, an elevated level of sugar in the blood that is not — yet — high enough to be considered diabetes. Up to 70% of people with prediabetes will go on to develop full-blown diabetes.
- People who smoke are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who do not.
- Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, contributing to the deaths of nearly 250,000 people every year.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of foot and leg amputations, accounting for 60% of all amputations.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of all cases.
- Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness.
- Diabetics spend $2.31 on medical care for every $1 spent by nondiabetics.
- 10% of all healthcare expenditures are spent on treating the complications of diabetes.
- Present trends indicate that as many as one in every three American adults will have diabetes by 2050.
Preventing type 2 diabetes — or, even better, preventing it —is an important part of maintaining the health and quality of life of senior citizens, the age group that is most at risk for the disease.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to meet the health care needs of seniors while allowing them to continue living in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.