March 25 is National Diabetes Alert Day. It is an annual one-day, wake-up call to inform the American public about the seriousness of diabetes, particularly when diabetes is left undiagnosed or untreated and to encourage everyone to take the Diabetes Risk Test.
Diabetes is a serious disease with 1.9 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes every year. Currently ~26 million Americans have diabetes and another 79 million adults have prediabetes. 27% of diabetes is undiagnosed. If present trends continue, 1 in 3 American adults could have diabetes in 2050.
The complications of diabetes are wide ranging leading to higher rates of heart disease, stroke, adult blindness, kidney failure and kidney disease, neuropathy, hearing loss, and lower-limb amputations.
The impact of diabetes is much more pronounced among diverse elders. Highlights of the racial disparities include:
- 10.2% of all non-Hispanic whites aged 20 years or older have diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed) whereas 18.7% of black adults have diabetes (diagnosed or undiagnosed).
- American Indians: 16.1% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults have diagnosed diabetes.
- Compared to non-Hispanic whites, the risk of diagnosed diabetes is 1.2 times higher among Asian Americans, 1.7 times higher among Hispanics, and 1.8 times higher among non-Hispanic blacks.
The percentage of Americans with diabetes increases as people age. Whereas 11.3% of all Americans 20 years and older have diabetes, for those 65 years or older the percentage increases to 26.9%. The economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion per year; representing 1 in 10 healthcare dollars spent treating diabetes and its complications.
Helpful diabetes educational resources for diverse older adults:
Or visit the National Diabetes Education Program website at www.YourDiabetesInfo.org.
Take the Diabetes Risk Test
Patrick Aitcheson is the Communications and Logistics Administrator for the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.