Diabetes screening for all elderly people should be a priority for local health authorities in England to prevent the development of other health conditions closely associated with the condition.
That’s according to Professor Alan Sinclair, director of the Institute of Diabetes for Older People (IDOP), who says a blanket approach to screening for everyone entering older age is needed following the worrying findings from a new report from Diabetes UK.
The results from the charity’s NHS health checks in Local Authorities’ paper, which were published earlier this week, highlight that a nationwide screening programme for over 40s is failing to meet its target.
Available for people between the ages of 40 and 74, the NHS health check scheme assesses a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes and four other common chronic diseases: heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.
But According to Diabetes UK only 6.4% of people in this age group received one of the five checks in the first nine months of 2013, considerably less than the scheme’s target of 11.25% of eligible population.
“The findings of this report are disappointing and again demonstrate why older people are getting a raw deal,” Professor Sinclair said.
“Diagnosing diabetes as early as possible as people enter older age is vitally important and should be a priority – it should be made available to everyone. This is because diabetes is different in the way it behaves and manifests itself in older people.
“Older people with diabetes do not always display the classic symptoms, with age-related changes meaning that some symptoms will be masked, or harder to spot.”
He added: “Impaired physical functioning and cognitive impairment together with an increased susceptibility to illness, means that once a person is diagnosed with diabetes in older age, adjustment to the condition is not always smooth. As a consequence, diabetes-related complications can be more common and harder to manage. As a consequence, diabetes-related complications can be more common and harder to manage.”

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