Diabetes in Elderly People: Risks and Management

Posted On Nov 27, 2022

Dr. Haroon H

Consultant- Internal Medicine

KMC Hospitals–Mangalore

Diabetes Treatment in Mangalore

Numerous older persons are affected by the condition known as diabetes, where blood glucose, sometimes referred to as blood sugar, is too high. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic (ongoing) disorder caused by the body's inability to make or react to insulin, a hormone that permits blood glucose to enter the body's cells and be utilized for energy.

In 2017, worldwide people over 65-year-old had 123 million cases of diabetes and that figure is projected to treble by 2045. Frailty, cognitive decline and dementia, urinary incontinence, traumatic falls and fractures, disability, and side effects of polypharmacy are among the common geriatric syndromes that older patients with diabetes are more likely to experience. These conditions have a significant negative impact on quality of life and may interfere with anti-diabetic treatment. These and other reasons make it difficult for doctors to control type 2 diabetes clinically in senior patients nowadays.

Why does the elderly population are having the risk of getting Diabetes?

Age, being overweight, and having a family history of diabetes are all significant risk factors for developing diabetes. Age-related increases in type 2 diabetes rates are seen over time. Age-related increases in insulin resistance are one cause of this. Being overweight, and a decline in physical activity in older persons are factors that cause insulin resistance. Type 2 diabetes occur :

  • Above 45 years and suffering from blood pressure.

  • Above 45 years and is overweight.

  • Have a family history of diabetes.

  • Above 55 years of age.

  • Have a high blood sugar level during pregnancy or give birth to a baby with a weight of more than 4.5 kg.

  • Suffering from PCOD.

  • Have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Common symptoms of Diabetes in the elderly population

Diabetes in older adults presents a number of challenges, including the fact that symptoms aren't always readily apparent. Age-related changes can conceal diabetic symptoms or make them more difficult to identify. In any event, mild to severe blood sugar elevations may go unnoticed.

In older individuals, the well-known signs of diabetes, such as increased urination and excessive thirst, are less visible than in younger individuals and typically manifest when blood sugar levels are highly elevated. Additionally, additional type 2 diabetes symptoms, like being tired and lethargic or gradually gaining weight, are sometimes misdiagnosed as being a natural part of ageing. Hence, it leads to undiagnosed type 2 diabetes among older adults until any damage is observed. Visit KMC Hospital for diabetes treatment in Mangalore.

Major complications in older people due to Diabetes

The build-up of glucose in the blood can seriously harm almost every major organ in the body if left unchecked, including:

  • Kidney damage leading to dialysis.

  • Artery damage that increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

  • Eye damage resulting in loss of vision.

  • Damage to nerves results into traumatic injury and infection, in turn causing limb amputation.

Why Elderly Population is getting adversely affected due to Diabetes?

As a result of having high blood sugar levels for a longer period of time, older diabetics are more prone to suffer problems including blood vessel damage. Older adults with diabetes experience greater problems, which may be more challenging to treat because they are more fragile and prone to sickness. 

Older people may find it more difficult to adopt healthy lifestyle practices to manage their diabetes since they are less mobile and energetic. Similarly to this, various medical issues like arthritis may limit an older person's capacity for physical activity or nutritious meal preparation. Hence, these elderly populations are negatively impacted by diabetes as a result of all these health issues, which makes it difficult for them to take any initiatives for treatment and control. Consult with our diabetologist in Mangalore to know more about the treatment.

Management for diabetes among older people

Numerous people with type 2 diabetes are able to control their blood sugar levels just by diet and exercise. In addition to medications to treat other problems like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, some people with diabetes may also require insulin injections or diabetes tablets. A diabetic may eventually require both medicine and lifestyle adjustments. 

When the individual is diagnosed with diabetes, a medical team will work with them to develop a diabetes management strategy. The strategy will be determined by their lifestyle, tastes, health objectives, and any additional medical concerns they may have.

A diabetes educator can support the patient as they adjust their lifestyle to manage their diabetes and assist them in better understanding diabetes. A dietician might assist with meal planning. One could become more physically active with the aid of an exercise coach.

Dr. Haroon H

Consultant - Internal Medicine

KMC Hospital, Mangalore

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