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For Immediate Release
November 30, 2010

Contact: Todd Kluss
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(202) 587-2839

During National Diabetes Awareness Month, New Report Ties Disease to Shortened Life Expectancy

Despite medical advances enabling those with diabetes to live longer today than in the past, a 50-year-old with the disease still can expect to live 8.5 years fewer years, on average, than a 50-year-old without the disease.

This critical finding comes from a new report commissioned by The National Academy on an Aging Society and supported by sanofi-aventis U.S. The analysis — based on data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) — found that older adults with diabetes have a lower life expectancy at every age than those without the disease. At age 60, for example, the difference in life expectancy is 5.4 years. By age 90, the difference is one year.

“Given the rise in diabetes among boomers and seniors, these findings are alarming,” said Greg O’Neill, PhD, director of the Academy. “They paint a stark picture of the impact of diabetes and its complications on healthy aging.”

Indeed, the figures show a marked increase in the percentage of adults over age 50 with diabetes during the past decade: from 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites in 1998 to 18 percent in 2008, and from 22 percent of non-Hispanic blacks in 1998 to 32 percent in 2008.

The report, “Profiles of an Aging Society: Diabetes,” was released to coincide with National Diabetes Awareness Month in November. It also found that, compared to older adults without diabetes, those with the disease are less likely to be employed and more likely to have other health problems, such as heart disease, depression, and disabilities that interfere with normal life activities. The analysis was conducted by Scott M. Lynch, PhD, of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University —  using HRS data collected biannually from 1998 through 2008, which included information from more than 20,000 adults over age 50 in 1998.

Diabetes currently afflicts 7.8 percent of the total U.S. population — 23.6 million people, including 5.7 million undiagnosed — but almost a quarter (23.1 percent) of individuals age 60 or older (12.2 million people). By 2034, 44.1 million Americans, including 14.6 million Medicare-eligible individuals, are expected to have diabetes. Annual diabetes-related spending is expected to rise as well, reaching $336 billion in 2034 — almost triple the amount researchers estimate was spent in 2009. For example, diabetes-related Medicare spending is expected to rise from $45 billion in 2009 to $171 billion in 2034.

“Profiles of an Aging Society: Diabetes” can be purchased from the Online Store at www.geron.org. Reporters may request electronic review copies.

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The National Academy on an Aging Society is the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America, the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,200+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public.

Click here for a printable PDF version of this press release.

Mildred M. Seltzer Distinguished Service Recognition

Presented to C. Joanne Grabinski, PhD, Eastern Michigan University, and Mary Alice Wolf, PhD, Saint Joseph University.

This award honors colleagues who are near retirement or recently retired. Recipients are individuals who have been actively involved in AGHE through service on committees, as elected officers, and/or have provided leadership in one of AGHE’s grant-funded projects.

Administrative Leadership Award

Presented to Tammy M. Bray, PhD, Oregon State University

This award honors administrators on AGHE member campuses who have made exceptional efforts in support of gerontology or geriatrics education.

David A. Peterson Gerontology & Geriatrics Education Best Paper of the Volume Award

Presented to Nina M. Silverstein, PhD, University of Massachusetts Boston; Elizabeth Johns, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston; and Judith A. Griffin, MA, MS, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the article “Students Explore Livable Communities.” Honorable mention is given to Emily J. Robbins, MS, Miami University; Jennifer M. Kinney, PhD, Miami University; and Cary S. Kart, PhD, Miami University, for the article “Promoting Active Engagement in Health Research: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Gerontology Capstone Course.”

The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence in scholarship in academic gerontology in AGHE’s official journal, Gerontology & Geriatrics Education.

Graduate Student Paper Award

Presented to Deborah Gray, MBA, University of Massachusetts Boston, for the paper “Weight and Wealth: The Relationship between Obesity and Net Worth for Pre-Retirement Age Men and Women.”

This award acknowledges excellence in scholarly work conducted by an AGHE Annual Meeting student attendee.

Book Award for Best Children’s Literature on Aging

Presented to Caitlin Dale Nicholson and Leona Morinn-Nelson for “Niwechihaw/I help” in the primary reader (pre-K to 2nd grade) category, and Ann Grifalconi and Jerry Pickney for “Ain’t Nobody A Stranger to Me” in the elementary reader (3rd to 5th grade) category.

This award recognizes portrayals of meaningful aging in children’s literature.