Diabetes: How it affects Older People

Diabetes: How it affects Older People

Diabetes is a common condition in the older population – it affects approximately 20% of the people by the age of 75 years. The metabolism of diabetes in older adults differs from that in young people, and the management of the condition requires a different approach for each group. Here are some ways in which diabetes affects the elderly population.


Diabetes: Mental Health

Depression is more frequent in individuals with long-term conditions like diabetes. However, depression may go undiagnosed in senior persons with complex health conditions. Diabetes-related complications and the adverse effects of medication can lead to or aggravate depression. If untreated, depression may lead to challenges with self-care and healthier lifestyle decisions. Depression may also elevate the risk of dementia and mortality in individuals with diabetes. Early identification of mental health issues can help avert their long-term impact and help the patient successfully manage diabetes porno français.


Unique Nutrition Concerns

Nutrition is a vital aspect of diabetes management for all ages. Older adults, however, have extra nutritional considerations. While the body’s energy demands decline with age, micronutrient needs remain relatively constant throughout adulthood. Senior people find it challenging to satisfy micronutrient needs while adhering to a low-calorie diet. Consequently, they are prone to deficiencies. Anorexia, swallowing difficulties, altered taste and smell, functional impairments, and oral/dental issues in older adults can lead to undernutrition.


Diagnosis and Clinical Presentation

Diabetes: Diagnosis and Clinical Presentation

About 50% of older persons with diabetes do not know they have the condition – they may not present with the apparent symptoms. The symptoms (like lethargy, tiredness, and general) that show are often nonspecific, causing late diagnosis. Common symptoms include dehydration, dry eyes, dry mouth, incontinence, confusion, and diabetes-related complications like neuropathy. Diabetes diagnosis in elderly persons often occurs in hospitalized patients with  complications like stroke or myocardial infarction.


Functional Impairment

Diabetes and aging are risk factors for functional impairment. However, those living with the condition are less physically active. Consequently, they are more prone to functional impairment than are people without diabetes. The causes of functional impairment in diabetic patients are the interaction between comorbid conditions, vision and hearing difficulty, peripheral neuropathy, and gait and balance problems. Patients with peripheral neuropathy are more prone to postural instability, muscle atrophy, and balance problems, limiting physical activity and elevating the risk of falls.


Barriers to Care

Barriers to Care

Aside from age-related physical challenges, senior diabetes patients may also face challenges like isolation and financial difficulties that adversely affect their care. They may forget (with no one to remind them) to take their meals or drugs. Economic challenges may render them unable to afford quality food and medication. Some may opt to skip medicine doses to extend a prescription. Other factors that may hamper self-care in adults include changes in taste (sometimes caused by medication) and loss of interest and ability to shop for healthy food and make meals at home. Dental issues can also limit the food choices for these patients.


Vision and Hearing Impairments

Increases the risk of sensory impairments in older adults. About a fifth of elderly diabetic patients reports visual impairment. Hearing impairment affects twice as many people with this ill. Sensory impairments tend to occur due to vascular disease as well as neuropathy.



Persistent pain associated with neuropathy or other conditions and inadequate pain management in senior adults can lead to other conditions. For example, functional impairment, depression, anxiety, falls, slow rehabilitation, and sleep and appetite disturbances. Urinary incontinence sometimes occurs in elderly patients, particularly women managing diabetes. Pain can also lead to a higher cost of healthcare and utilization. 





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