Trajectory of Disability in Older Adults With Newly Diagnosed Diabetes: Role of Elevated Depressive Symptoms

Diabetes Care. 2018 Oct;41(10):2072-2078. doi: 10.2337/dc18-0007. Epub 2018 Aug 2.


Objective: We examined whether the trajectory of disability differed between older adults with and without elevated depressive symptoms before and after the onset of diabetes mellitus (DM) over 10 years (2004-2014) and explored difficulties in basic and instrumental activities of daily living between the two groups.

Research design and methods: A generalized linear mixed-model analysis was conducted using five waves (8th-12th) of Health and Retirement Study (HRS) data. We included 419 older adults who self-reported new DM diagnosis within the previous 2 years and used the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale to measure elevated depressive symptoms. Disability was measured by 10 items defined in the HRS data set.

Results: The trajectory of disability differed between older adults with and without elevated depressive symptoms after newly diagnosed DM over time. Significant and clinically meaningful between-group differences were found in disability after the onset of DM (waves 10 and 11) but not before the onset of DM (waves 8 and 9). Among older adults with elevated depressive symptoms, disability at pre-DM waves (8 and 9) was significantly less than post-DM waves (10-12). Difficulties with shopping, walking, and dressing were mostly reported by older adults with elevated depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: Older adults with newly diagnosed DM and elevated depressive symptoms have a clinically meaningful and faster disablement trajectory than those without elevated depressive symptoms. Future interventions may take an indicated approach to disability prevention in older adults with newly diagnosed DM, especially in those with a change in depression severity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living* / psychology
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Retirement