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Diabetes management for the older person

When it comes to older adults with diabetes, factors such as frailty, polypharmacy and altered metabolism can present a variety of challenges when it comes to diabetes management. In addition, many of these factors can also precipitate diabetes diagnosis in this population.

Common predisposing factors in older adults include:

  • Age-related changes in glucose metabolism, insulin secretion and insulin resistance
  • Increases in adiposity
  • Decreases in muscle mass
  • Co-existing illnesses and increased frailty

As with any condition, the goals of treatment should be personalised to the individual. For older adults with diabetes, adjustment to medications and higher HbA1c targets may be appropriate, with the targets of between 7.5-8% recommended for older individuals with concurrent health problems.

Utilising a variety of assessment tools, employing a multidisciplinary approach and discussing treatment options with older people and their families can help to identify priorities for both management of diabetes and other health issues.

Diabetes Qualified offers a course for Aged Care workers to help them understand diabetes and support the elderly, it can be found here