Background: diabetes is a significant disease of elderly people, an age group whose numbers will double over the next 20-30 years. Yet studies which assess diabetes-related quality of life have rarely included elderly participants.
Objectives: to compare and contrast the health-related quality of life of elderly (> or = 65 years) and younger individuals with diabetes using reliable and valid assessment tools.
Methods: 191 adults (> or = 30 years) with diabetes currently on an insulin regimen were recruited. Medical and demographic data were gathered from the medical chart. Participants completed a generic quality of life measure (SF-36) and 3 diabetes-specific measures. Statistical analyses compared adults (30-64 years) to elderly adults (> or = 65 years).
Results: on the generic SF-36, physical and mental summary scores did not differ. However, elderly participants reported greater role limitations due to physical problems, and better social function. On diabetes-specific measures, elderly participants reported higher satisfaction with diabetes-related aspects of their lives, less diabetes-related emotional distress, and better ability to cope with their diabetes.
Conclusions: the differences that did emerge between the two groups suggest that, though experiencing more limitations in their ability to function in their roles, elderly individuals with diabetes may still feel that they can cope with these limitations and thus manage the distress and lifestyle demands of the diabetes. The value of subscale analysis of the SF-36 and use of diabetes-specific health-related quality of life measures is also affirmed.