Each day in the U.S., 10,000 baby boomers celebrate their 65th birthdays. One in five Americans will be over the age of 65 by 2030 and ten percent of the population will be over the age of 90 in 2050. While the literature routinely specifies those over the age of 65 as "older" adults, this population is complex and varies greatly in terms of health status, duration and type of diabetes, physical and mental ability, financial situation, preferences, cultural values and barriers to care.
You may encounter a frail 68 year old who resides in long-term care today and then tomorrow you might see an 88 year old who is asking for help with adjusting meal times and insulin administration during overseas travel through multiple time zones. Many will have fixed incomes and approximately 1 out of 3 will live alone which can put them at risk for malnutrition, food insecurity and depression. Others will still be working, enjoying great family or community support, and have the desire and motivation to fully participate in self-care for optimum quality of life.
Diabetes management is a complex process and cognitive declines that come with aging will necessitate changes in care plans and delivery of self-management instruction. As healthcare providers, we should be mindful of these issues and do our best to honor and empathize with the challenges faced by older adults.
This issue discusses using validated assessment tools and evidence-based guidelines to inform treatment and improve individualized care for older adults living with diabetes.
CPE Level: 2