Published on 30 October 2017

International report highlights need for better care to be available for older people with diabetes.

The needs of older people with diabetes being “let down” and “overlooked” by the system are addressed in a new report offering solutions to care needs.

The recent International position statement on the management of frailty in diabetes has been published to propose new guidelines for how to manage older people with diabetes who also suffer from physical weakness and fatigue.

The report includes recommendations to help doctors and nurses treat people with diabetes aged over 70 who may also have additional health conditions linked to physical weakness and calls for a “clear focus on patient safety” with early recognition of the deterioration of a person’s health.

The report was compiled by Professor Alan Sinclair of the Foundation for Diabetes Research in Older People at Diabetes Frail and Professor Bruno Vellas, Chief of the Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at the Toulouse University Hospital, France, and former International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics President, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Geriatrics Society and an International Group of Experts.

Professor Sinclair said: “Frailty is now recognised as a new complication of diabetes in ageing populations and needs to be a priority for action. This is because frailty leads to excess disability in diabetes leading to earlier institutionalisation, decreased quality of life, and premature death. Yet early prevention and management should lead to longer, healthier lives.

“Quite simply older people with diabetes developing frailty are being let down and overlooked by the system, that’s why we have developed this international position statement to illustrate and share a better way of caring for these people.

“It is part of a wider problem as generally older people with diabetes were often overlooked and over-medicated, but we now need to give them the care and attention they deserve.”

The report includes a model for healthcare professionals working in primary, secondary and community care to help them understand how to prevent frailty and ensure the early management of the condition.

It also provides a framework for how care could be co-ordinated across local regions to help older people with diabetes who are developing frailty, have developed frailty, and those progressing to disability.

The number of new cases of type 2 diabetes in older people is increasing among people between the ages of 60 to 79 years, with up to one in four estimated to be frail in this age range.

In older people with the condition, frailty and loss of muscle mass and strength, known as sarcopenia, have become serious complications which are often overlooked or not diagnosed by healthcare teams.

The report was published to coincide with the recent 4th National Conference of the Older People’s Diabetes Network, chaired by Professor Sinclair.

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