I have been always wondered who should be called old or senior citizen if we consider diabetes as a criteria for old age, as earlier this was one of the disease of old age. However considering the fact that now a days we see lot of patient with diabetes in quite young age that definition seems to be wrong but yes, getting diabetes some time do make u feel old. As per GOI definition, a person is called senior citizen once he or she has achieved the age of 60 plus. Detecting diabetes in elderly always remain challenge as lot of symptom of diabetes match with symptom related to old age like frequent urination can be due to prostate problem and gynecological issues, weight loss is also quite common in elderly population and sometime is being ignored as age related issue, not feeling well also a common symptom of diabetes is always ignored as people think that this is also age related and hence if we don’t have regular check ups we are going to miss lot of cases of diabetes in elderly population and finally they lend with very high blood sugar which can lead to issue like heart problem (MI), Stroke, diabetic ketoacidosis and sepsis which can be life threatening. The immediate question arises that does each elderly should be screened for diabetes and answer is definitely yes. Any person with age of more than 45 should be screened for diabetes especially if they are overweight or obese. If results are normal they should be screened minimally every 3 year or early if there are risk factor for diabetes like family history, dyslipidemia, hypertension, history of diabetes during pregnancy and obesity. If there are impaired results, person should get his blood sugar tested each year minimally or early.
Question arises even if we detect diabetes early, is it going to benefit in long term and if not detected what harm it can cause. We need to be aware of this fact that at least 20 percent of population in elderly age group suffer from diabetes and as our lifespan is increasing, due to better healthcare facility, if diabetes is not detected or treated, elderly might have to live for long time with chronic complications of diabetes and will have very poor quality of life. Elderly with diabetes have higher chances of co-existing illness like heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. They are also more prone for premature death, depression, and functional disability and increase dependency on other for their daily needs. Diabetics also have increase chances of geriatric syndromes like cognitive impairment, polypharmacy, urinary incontinence, and persistent pain. Hence detection of diabetes at early stage can lead to improvement in quality of life and also can prevent chronic complications.