Prevention is possible, according to the report.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by healthy eating and exercise, and by some forms of medication. The American Diabetes Association suggests all overweight adults older than 45 be screened at least every three years.
Once a diagnosis is made, treating diabetes in older adults can be a challenge. Older patients tend to eat less, so it is difficult to control the disease through diet modification. Treating the disease can be even more challenging for older adults living in a nursing home, where meals can be erratic and there are high levels of employee turnover.
Researchers are working on studies that will address some of those questions.
At the VA hospital in Miami, older patients are tracking their blood sugar, blood pressure and physical activity, and sending that information back to doctors, Florez said.
Florez has been training some older adults to teach their peers about lifestyle modifications.
One of his patients at the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Institute is Jose Belaval, a 79-year-old resident of Cutler Bay.
Belaval was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes more than a decade ago, he said. He controls the disease by taking an oral diabetes medication called Januvia and paying attention to what he eats.
“You have to eat right,” Belaval said, noting that he lost 30 pounds by trimming carbohydrates from his diet.
Belaval is diligent about monitoring his blood sugar levels, and checking his vision and hearing. He keeps track of the data. And Florez often has him perform a short physical performance battery exam that includes balance and speed tests.
Belaval believes it is his duty to be part of the research on older adults with the condition.
“In a way, my experience will help other people,” he said. “That’s very important.”