Diabetes is a very serious and at times complex condition to manage for providers and older adults. More than 25% of the U.S. population aged ≥65 years has diabetes, and most are managing the disease along with at least one other chronic condition. Older adults with diabetes are at substantial risk for both acute and chronic microvascular and cardiovascular complications of the disease. The vast majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes in older adults is associated with reduced functional capacity, mental health, increased risk of recurring hospital admissions, institutionalization and higher mortality.
Poorly managed, Type 2 diabetes can cause renal (kidney) failure, vision loss, severe nerve damage, and cardiovascular (heart and other artery blockage) disease. Risk of infection is extremely high because Type 2 diabetes can lead to loss of feeling in the extremities. With Type 2 diabetes, sores, cuts, and openings can go untreated, be slow to heal and can result in amputation. Over half of all amputations in the U.S. are caused by diabetes and subsequent complications with most being lower-extremity amputations (LEA), (e.g. loss of toes and feet).