Mindfully Treating the elderly For Diabetes

In January of 2105, the New York Times ran an article outlining some of the unique needs of elderly individuals with diabetes. It was ominously titled, When Diabetes Treatment Goes to Far. Kay’s Naturals is an avid advocate for proactive and appropriate treatment for diabetes. In an effort to spread public awareness about diabetes and suitable treatment, we are sharing the information here. If diabetes is important to you as well, read on.

About 11 million Americans over the age of 65 have diabetes. Most take medications to lower blood sugar levels. The majority reach an average blood sugar target of less than 7 percent. Frequently, doctors are rewarded by the number of patients who reach their target blood sugar levels. This practice is justified because early studies indicated that levels below seven can “reduce the risk of diabetes complications, including eye, kidney and nerve problems. As a result, for more than a decade, medical societies, pharmaceutical companies, and diabetes groups have campaigned with a simple, concrete message — to get below seven.”

The author or the article, Kasia Lipska, warns that this may not be the appropriate treatment for older people, as it may cause serious health concerns for four reasons:

  1. The below seven strategy may not work for the elderly. The studies used to justify this practice were conducted years ago and conducted in people with Type 1 diabetes or who were younger with Type 2 diabetes. More recent trials “of older patients raised doubts about the benefits.”
  2. Having low blood sugar targets could cause damage. According to the article, one study trial on blood sugar levels of individuals with diabetes had to terminate the study because patients, with a target blood sugar level below six, had “ significantly higher rates of death than patients targeting levels in the sevens.” The cause for this is unknown. What is known is that working to achieve levels below seven can increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Reactions to low blood sugar can result in coma, falls fractures, confusion, abnormal heart rhythms and possibly death.
  3. Older folks are at greater risk of severe hypoglycemia. As we age, our kidneys become increasingly less efficient, resulting in drugs such as insulin accumulating in the body. The accumulation of insulin may cause hypoglycemia. The interaction of other drugs may also cause hypoglycemia. Increasingly complex insulin regimens and additional medications are more common for older people, increasing the likelihood of possible of errors- such as an accidental overdose.
  4. Lastly, older people have less warning signs of blood sugar drop, leaving them will less time to react and prevent a problem from becoming dangerous, such fainting and crashing a car.

American Geriatrics Society and the Veterans Affairs diabetes guidelines understand the risk of reaching for low blood sugar levels for individuals with considerable health problems. They “ recommended a cautious, case-by-case approach for older patients. For those with serious health problems, or prior history of hypoglycemia, going below seven may not be worth the risks involved.” Unfortunately, those guidelines are not practiced, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, of which Dr. Lapski was an author. According to their study, most doctors are still “ adhering to a one-size-fits-all approach, despite the risks that it poses to millions of older Americans.”


Dr. Lapski believes there must be a change in the current paradigm. She suggests that patients and doctors partner together to make decisions about diabetes treatment. “Patients need to understand that there are different options, with different risks. The goal is not to get a perfect score on a report card, but to weigh these risks to make a good decision.”

If you are working on lowering your blood sugar levels, it is likely that you will greatly enjoy Kay's Naturals. All of our products are low- GI and diabetic friendly, even your Cinnamon Pretzel Sticks! To learn more visit our website at www.kaysnaturals.com.


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