Type 2 diabetes risk factors may jeopardize financial health of seniors

Once people start getting past the age of 50, retirement becomes a common concern. However, those who are ignoring risk factors for type 2 diabetes may be setting themselves up for a financial challenge that could jeopardize their retirement dreams.

Barbara Hannah Grufferman, an author and expert on aging, recently wrote on the Huffington Post that obesity and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes are a person's single greatest financial liabilities as they grow older. This is because diabetes is such an expensive condition to treat. It can easily exhaust an individual's savings in just a few years.

Grufferman continued that this is a particularly jarring problem now because so many people are out of work and do not have health insurance. Without adequate coverage, it may be nearly impossible to afford type 2 diabetes treatment.

The numbers support this warning, as the American Diabetes Association says that medical costs are about 2.3 times higher for a person with type 2 diabetes, compared to a metabolically healthy individual. Overall, the condition cost the U.S. $218 billion in 2007.

Individuals with type 2 diabetes require blood sugar testing supplies, medications and regular trips to their doctor, all which can drive up the cost of care. However, the good news is the condition is largely avoidable. With regular exercise and a healthy diet, it is possible to drastically cut diabetes risk.

As a person ages, their metabolism slows down. This means that, while it may have been possible to eat a fatty diet and live a sedentary lifestyle without gaining much weight during early adulthood, doing so later in life can cause a person to put on extra fat, which is the most common type 2 diabetes risk factor. Eating right and getting plenty of exercise become even more important.

Failure to follow this type of advice during one's senior years could have important implications for their metabolic and financial health. With the cost of healthcare continuing to rise, taking steps to avoid type 2 diabetes may be just as important a part of retirement planning as investing in a 401(k).