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NHCOA Statement on National Diabetes Month

Last year 10.9 million older Americans had diabetes; compared to non-Hispanic White adults, the risk of diagnosed diabetes was 66% higher among Hispanics

Washington, DC—Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)—the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers—made the following statement in commemoration of National Diabetes Month:

“Last year, over a quarter of older Americans ages 65 and older had diabetes, and we know that when someone has this chronic disease, its impact goes beyond the medical complications that patients eventually develop.

“Having diabetes represents large direct medical costs, whether it is diagnosed or undiagnosed, and also hurts the economy as it causes disability, lost productivity, and premature mortality. In 2007 alone, the total cost of diabetes was $218 billion.

“Moreover, diabetes disproportionately affects diverse communities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Compared to non-Hispanic Whites, the risk of diagnosed diabetes is 66% higher among Hispanics.

“Given that the risk of diabetes increases with age, Latino seniors are even more predisposed to diabetes and its complications as they reach their golden years. Therefore, Hispanic elders are far more likely to die from diabetes complications than non-Hispanic Whites.

“NHCOA is doing its part through its signature Salud y Bienestar (Health and Well-Being) program, which promotes disease management and prevention among Hispanic older adults in a culturally, linguistically, and age sensitive manner.

“This program was implemented with member organizations of NHCOA’s Hispanic Aging Network, reaching thousands of participants from Hispanic communities in different regions of the country. In addition to the educational intervention, a follow up evaluation was performed, indicating positive behavior changes.

“We also are continuing these efforts by conducting research on successful diabetes control and prevention interventions. NHCOA is implementing an innovative program intervention using a health game with support from the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) in an effort to continue improving, and eventually expanding, the Health and Well-Being program so that more seniors can prevent and manage their diabetes.

“As we raise awareness and promote preventive steps during National Diabetes Month, NHCOA will continue to do its part to ensure more older adults spend their golden years in the best health possible.”