Diabetes and the Elderly

Diabetes occurs more frequently with advancing age, especially for persons who become more sedentary with age. There is an increase in fatty tissue and a decrease in muscle mass with age, which accompanies a decrease in physical activity. The elderly person with diabetes may be affected by other illnesses, known as comorbidities and the use of many medications, known as poly-pharmacy. Hypoglycaemia may occur more often due to liver and kidney disease and also due to hypoglycaemic unawareness. Hypoglycaemia can affect functioning and vision and can increase falls and fractures; complications of diabetes may also be more frequent, such as kidney dysfunction and heart disease. Our elderly persons with diabetes may benefit from a less restrictive meal plan with a level and intensity of physical activity dependent on physical condition. Insulin is often required for elderly persons with diabetes and this requires family involvement and and support, and self monitoring of blood glucose at home.