Diabetes and Aging

Diabetes Dateline . Diabetes and Aging

What is different for older people with diabetes?

The way diabetes is managed changes with age. Insulin production decreases because of the age-related impairment of pancreatic beta cells. Insulin resistance increases due to the loss of lean tissue and the accumulation of fat, particularly intra-abdominal fat, and the decreased tissue sensitivity to insulin.

In addition, other factors can affect diabetes management in older people:

* Modifying lifestyle risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes, such as obesity, poor diet, smoking, and lack of exercise, may be more difficult for older people. Lack of means and access may restrict nutritional improvement, the decline in physical abilities may make exercise difficult, and years of smoking may make quitting very difficult.

* Coexisting conditions, such as hypertension, increase the challenge of treating diabetes in older people. Further, diabetes can exacerbate the symptoms of coexisting conditions. Taking various medications for multiple conditions, called polypharmacy, increases the risk of adverse drug interactions.

* Diabetes complications can develop quickly in older people, often as a result of the long period before diagnosis. In addition, older people may have more complications, which may be more severe, than younger people.

* Decreased physical and/or mental abilities may make it difficult to follow a treatment regimen.

* Limited financial resources may affect the choice and use of medication.

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