Diabetes self-care and the older adult

West J Nurs Res. 2014 Oct;36(9):1272-98. doi: 10.1177/0193945914521696. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


The prevalence of diabetes is highest in older adults, a population that is increasing. Diabetes self-care is complex with important recommendations for nutrition, physical activity, checking glucose levels, and taking medication. Older adults with diabetes have unique issues that impact self-care. As people age, their health status, support systems, physical and mental abilities, and nutritional requirements change. Furthermore, comorbidities, complications, and polypharmacy complicate diabetes self-care. Depression is also more common among the elderly and may lead to deterioration in self-care behaviors. Because of concerns about cognitive deficits and multiple comorbidities, adults older than 65 years are often excluded from research trials. Thus, little clinical evidence is available and the most appropriate treatment approaches and how to best support older patients' self-care efforts are unclear. This review summarizes the current literature, research findings, and expert and consensus recommendations with their rationales.

Keywords: depression; diabetes; education; older adults; self-care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Self Care / standards*