Diabetes and Quality of Life in Seniors

It is known that there is a link between diabetes and cognitive decline in seniors. For some people this happens if diabetes was not managed properly. How are diabetes and quality of life connected? If diabetes can cause cognitive decline in seniors, does it mean there will be a reduction in quality of life?


Diabetes and Cognitive Decline in Seniors

Studies have found a connection between having diabetes type 1 or type 2 and a “mild reduction in cognitive function”. There is a 50% increased risk of dementia in people with type 2 diabetes. The association has been known for 100 years. In 1922 Drs. Miles and Root found that patients with diabetes did worse on memory and attention tasks, than non-diabetic people did.

The healthcare system might be challenged. People are generally living longer, and diabetes has reached so many people.

While doctors may be concerned how people will function cognitively in day to day tasks, we can also ask how will this affect the quality of life of today’s seniors?


Cognitive Decline and Quality of Life in Seniors

Nowadays, the medical establishment likes to be able to measure everything. Once there is a measurement, then the condition can be evaluated in terms of priority. Cognition is evaluated by neurological and cognitive testing. But how can you evaluate quality of life? Life itself is priceless. Anything after that is very subjective. Medical staff can only make the best assumption to understand how nice a patient’s life is.

  1. Rating by members of staff vs. patient’s own rating

An inspiring study from August 2018 compared the way staff rated the quality of life in patients with dementia, with the patient’s own ratings of their quality of life. The research found that staff “significantly underestimated” the quality of life experienced by the senior patients. The study concluded that it is not possible to substitute a staff report of quality of life, for the patient’s own report. What is inspiring there, is that the patients seemed to have adapted their standards of what quality of life means, to cope with the challenges caused by the dementia.

  1. A lot of help and treatment nowadays

That does not mean that the rest of the population should give up on the patients. We may not leave them to live in misery, anxiety or in a state of lack. There are a host of treatments available. Medicine should do the best it can for the benefit of the patients.

  1. General higher standard of living

On the other hand, we do almost all have a much higher standard of living nowadays. What would have been considered acceptable previously, is unacceptable nowadays. There are state-of-the-art therapies provided in top-class assisted living communities, residential rehabilitation centers, and comfort or palliative care where needed. Seniors have been expected to put aside money for their senior years. Those who can afford it, can enjoy care at supreme levels. Of course, it does not mean that we can be complacent about a disease like diabetes.

  1. Help through technology

Yes, today, sometimes a person’s ‘best friend’ is technology. It helps so many of us who are lacking in some way, to make up the short-coming. Some of us rely on spellcheckers in our written work, others rely on apps to remind us to take our medicine. There are devices to help us know where we are, the time of day, where we left the car keys and so on.

Again, technology helps bridge the gap in quality of life and helps us function. It does not mean we can ignore symptoms of dementia. Technology can only complement proper medical care.

  1. Effect on healthcare provision

All this means, that increasing diabetes and the potential increase in dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, could cause challenges for healthcare.

Doctors need to do their best to treat diabetic patients effectively. Identifying any cognitive decline should be part of the treatment.

Patients need to do their best to manage the diabetes.

By working together, the two sides can mitigate the damages caused by diabetes. The hope is that diabetes levels worldwide will come down, and quality of life among seniors can be maintained.


Diabetes and Quality of Life in Seniors

To conclude, diabetes can have far-reaching affects in seniors. Cognitive decline can be especially problematic. The reason for this is, that it might not only impact the patient medically, but it could also affect their quality of life.

We should not forget the nature of many seniors to rise up to the challenge. The personal view of a senior regarding their own care has value, within the parameters of their medical care. Diabetes and quality of life do go hand in hand, but many other factors also have influence on a senior’s sense of quality of life.



Diabetes and quality of life


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