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Management of diabetes mellitus in the elderly

Chiniwala, Niyati; Jabbour, Serge

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity: April 2011 - Volume 18 - Issue 2 - p 148–152
doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e3283444ba0
Lipids: Edited by Annabelle Rodriguez

Purpose of review Description of management of diabetes in elderly.

Recent findings Population of older adults is growing and so is the prevalence of diabetes in elderly individuals. Older adults are a heterogeneous group of individuals with varying physical capabilities, cognitive functioning and co-morbidities and life expectancies. Also, older adults with diabetes are at increased risk for some geriatric conditions. Thus, clinicians taking care of elderly with diabetes must take this into consideration and prioritize treatment accordingly.

Summary Goals of diabetes care in elderly and younger adults are alike, though managing diabetes in elderly requires individualized approach. Fit elderly with life expectancy over 10 years should have HbA1c target similar to younger adults, whereas in frail elderly with multiple co-morbidities, the goal should somewhat be higher. Pharmacological treatment options are similar to younger adults and avoidance of hypoglycemia is an important consideration in choosing therapeutic agents in elderly. Evaluation and treatment of microvascular and macrovascular complications of diabetes in elderly must also be individualized.

Division of Endocrinology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence to Niyati U. Chiniwala, MD, MPH, Division of Endocrinology, Thomas Jefferson University, 211 South 9th Street, Suite 600, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA Tel: +1 215 955 1925; fax: +1 215 928 3160; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.