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Summary

Introduction:  Diabetes mellitus is approaching epidemic proportions in most countries and has captured the attention of physicians at local, national and global levels. The elderly population remains at a higher risk for diabetes mellitus (1), and the disease poses unique concerns for geriatricians, primary care physicians, nurses and specialised pharmacists who provide care to the elderly. Glycaemic control, geriatric-related syndromes and cardiovascular risk factors considerably affect the elderly patient’s functional status and life expectancy (2). Geriatric syndromes may include polypharmacy, chronic pain, injurious falls, cognitive impairment, urinary incontinence and depression. Higher rates of premature death; functional disability; and chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, cerebrovascular accidents, dementia and coronary artery disease, often affect elderly diabetic patients.

Discussion:  Collaborative efforts are continually needed to allocate and maximise utilisation of resources to help empower older adults with diabetes to overcome barriers to disease management. Healthcare providers are increasingly challenged by the complexity of problems that face old patients, and must therefore be prepared to assess and treat diabetes mellitus within the milieu of many geriatric-related chronic illnesses. Healthcare providers must tailor individualised treatment methods, with the ultimate goal of not only achieving laboratory norms but also improving the quality of life for this vulnerable population.

Conclusion:  There is a need for extra care and overcoming barriers to diabetes control in old patients as a dynamic and a continuous task that needs coordination of healthcare systems and professionals at all levels of care.