While there haven’t been any diabetes management breakthroughs in recent years, there have been some interesting studies and developments. Among them:
  • A study in the United Kingdom by researchers at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School and published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences has shown that one in every five older adults in nursing care centers are not drinking enough fluids to stay properly hydrated. Particularly at risk are those with dementia, diabetes, and kidney problems.
  • Researchers suggest a need for facilities to identify residents at greatest risk for dehydration (including those with the conditions mentioned here as well as those prescribed diuretics and those with urinary incontinence) and make sure that they are encouraged to take in liquids several times a day.
  • Individuals using insulin over the age of 80 are twice as likely to end up in the emergency room with low blood sugar than their younger counterparts, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study by the agency also indicated that these older patients are five times more likely to be hospitalized for the condition than younger patients. They determined that the most common causes of hypoglycemia were reduced food intake and patients mixing up long-acting and short-acting insulin.
  • Older patients with diabetes benefitted from an active intervention that involves assessing barriers to self-care and development of strategies to cope with these, according to one study from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and published in Diabetes Care. Researchers found that patients who received interventions from a geriatric diabetes teams experienced more hemoglobin A1c control.
  • A new Tel Aviv University study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has found that insulin resistance, caused in part by obesity and physical inactivity, is linked to a more rapid cognitive decline. According to the authors, both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance experienced accelerated cognitive decline in executive function and memory.
  • Drugs used to treat diabetes could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease and vice versa, according to a recent study by the University of Aberdeen and published in the European journal Diabetologia. Researchers found that Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes are so closely related that drugs currently used to control glucose levels in diabetes may also alleviate the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that dementia-related complications within the brain can also lead to changes in glucose.
  • Older Native Americans face barriers to diabetes management, including transportation problems, distance to medical care, family obligations and other socioeconomic barriers, and lack of patient-provider relationships and communications. According to a study from the University of Michigan published in Journal of Aging and Health, most native elders live more than 15 minutes from their regular source of care and usually depend on themselves for transportation. The authors say that once barriers are identified, communities need to address them via programs and policies to enhance the health and well-being of older Native Americans.
  • According to a new study from the University of Queensland published in Drugs and Ageing, older women over age 75 faced a 33 percent higher chance of developing diabetes if they were taking statins. The risk increased to 51 percent for those on high doses.
  • Hospitals are ramping up the use of hyperbaric treatment for elderly patients with diabetes who have persistent wounds. This involves patients breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized air chamber. Usually, this treatment requires multiple sessions and continues for several weeks or even months. To date, more than 1,000 hospitals in the United States have installed hyperbaric facilities. This is triple the number in existence when Medicare approved payment in 2002 for this therapy to treat certain diabetic wounds. However, it is important to note that the ADA has concluded that there isn’t enough supporting data on its efficacy to recommend the treatment. At the same time, Medicare has begun cracking down on billing for the service.