Geriatric conditions develop in middle-aged adults with diabetes

J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Mar;26(3):272-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-010-1510-y. Epub 2010 Sep 29.


Background: Geriatric conditions, collections of symptoms common in older adults and not necessarily associated with a specific disease, increase in prevalence with advancing age. These conditions are important contributors to the complex health status of older adults. Diabetes mellitus is known to co-occur with geriatric conditions in older adults and has been implicated in the pathogenesis of some conditions.

Objective: To investigate the prevalence and incidence of geriatric conditions in middle-aged and older-aged adults with diabetes.

Design: Secondary analysis of nationally-representative, longitudinal health interview survey data (Health and Retirement Study waves 2004 and 2006).

Participants: Respondents 51 years and older in 2004 (n=18,908).

Main measures: Diabetes mellitus. Eight geriatric conditions: cognitive impairment, falls, incontinence, low body mass index, dizziness, vision impairment, hearing impairment, pain.

Key results: Adults with diabetes, compared to those without, had increased prevalence and increased incidence of geriatric conditions across the age spectrum (p< 0.01 for each age group from 51-54 years old to 75-79 years old). Differences between adults with and without diabetes were most marked in middle-age. Diabetes was associated with the two-year cumulative incidence of acquiring new geriatric conditions (odds ratio, 95% confidence interval: 1.8, 1.6-2.0). A diabetes-age interaction was discovered: as age increased, the association of diabetes with new geriatric conditions decreased.

Conclusions: Middle-aged, as well as older-aged, adults with diabetes are at increased risk for the development of geriatric conditions, which contribute substantially to their morbidity and functional impairment. Our findings suggest that adults with diabetes should be monitored for the development of these conditions beginning at a younger age than previously thought.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology*
  • Dizziness / complications
  • Dizziness / epidemiology
  • Dizziness / pathology
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment* / methods
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys / methods
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / pathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / complications
  • Urinary Incontinence / epidemiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / pathology