Challenges and Strategies for Diabetes Management in Community-Living Older Adults

Diabetes Spectr. 2020 Aug;33(3):217-227. doi: 10.2337/ds20-0013.


The prevalence of diabetes is increasing, especially in older people, mainly because of an increase in life expectancy. The number of comorbidities also increases with increasing age, leading to a unique diabetes phenotype in old age that includes vascular disease, physical and neuropathic complications, and mental dysfunction. These three categories of complications appear to have a synergistic effect that can lead to a vicious cycle of deterioration into disability. Early assessment and appropriate, timely interventions may delay adverse outcomes. However, this complex phenotype constitutes a great challenge for health care professionals. This article reviews the complex diabetes phenotype in old age and explores management strategies that are predominantly based on the overall functional status of patients within this heterogeneous age-group.