Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in older French subjects and to examine the different aspects of quality of life in an older diabetic population.
Design: From a random sample of 2792 people older than age 65 living in the community, a diabetic sample was selected using three items from a questionnaire: Are you diabetic? Are you on a diabetic diet? What kind of medications do you take daily? Validation of the questionnaire was carried out previously to correct the observed prevalence.
Measurements: The questionnaire assessed social and demographic aspects, physical, mental, and subjective health, and functional disabilities. Because quality of life assessment was mainly subjective, demented subjects were excluded.
Results: The diabetic group consisted of 237 subjects from the older sample of 2792 (8.5%). No age difference was demonstrated between the two groups (mean, distribution), but the male/female ratio was significantly higher in those with diabetes (49.4% vs 39.3%, P = .003). Corrected prevalence of diabetes was 10.3%. After exclusion of demented subjects, 230/2726 people were investigated. Diabetic subjects were heavier (P < .001), had higher systolic blood pressure (P < .001), and had more frequent symptoms of ischemic heart disease (P < .001) and painful peripheral arterial disease (P < .001) and dyspnea (P < .001), but antecedents of stroke were similar in both groups. Diabetics were more often lacking in autonomy according to the IADL Lawton scale (P < .001), Rosow and Breslow scale (P < .001), and Mobility scale (P = .043), but not according to the Katz ADL scale. They more often exhibited symptoms of depression on the CES-D self-rating scale (21.3% vs 12.7%, P < .001), but evaluation of cognitive function was similar in both groups. Thirteen percent of diabetics, compared with 7.6% of non-diabetics, were unsatisfied with their own situation (P = .002). Health was rated as fair, bad, or very bad by 67.8% of diabetics compared with 49% of non-diabetics (P < .001). Diabetics rated themselves as feeling worse than others (15.3% vs 9.2%, P < < .001) and worried more about their health status (78% vs 63%, P < < .001).
Conclusion: The observed prevalence of diabetes in older French people living in the community was 8.5%. Quality of life in older diabetics was poorer than that of other people of the same age.