This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Diabetes in older people

Written by: | Published:

The number of people over the age of 65 with diabetes, principally type 2 diabetes, is growing. Increasing insulin resistance and reduced insulin secretion make age a major predisposing factor for type 2 diabetes.1

Patients are frequently asymptomatic, so macrovascular and microvascular damage may well be present by the time the diagnosis is made. Managing risk factors and established complications in the elderly should take account of co-morbidities, lifestyle and social setting, cognitive function and life expectancy, with a view to maximising autonomy and quality of life.2

Pharmacological treatment goals must be realistic and safe, acknowledging the metabolic consequences of age, the risks of hypoglycaemia and the dangers of polypharmacy.3 A holistic appraisal is essential and an individualised approach required.

Identifying diabetes

The classic osmotic symptoms of polyuria and thirst are often absent in the elderly. For many, the diagnosis is made at a routine health check or as part of investigations in an unwell patient. Groups at high risk of type 2 diabetes include those with a predisposing ethnic origin (south Asian, Afro-Caribbean and African), those with a family history of diabetes, and the obese, and there should be a low threshold for testing these groups. Patients at high cardiovascular risk or with overt cardiovascular disease (CVD) should also be screened for diabetes.

Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Most read articles from Practice Nursing Journal

Practice Nursing Journal latest issue and most read articles.

Click here to read a selection of free to access articles from Practice Nursing Journal


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.