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Expert calls to improve care for older people with diabetes

Older people with diabetes are often overlooked and overmedicated, according to a leading health expert.
Professor Alan Sinclair, the clinical lead of the Older People’s Diabetes Network (OPDN) and a professor at Aston University, believes older generations with diabetes are being “let down by the system”. He was speaking at the fourth annual conference of the OPDN on Wednesday 27 September.
Prof Sinclair said: “Most residents in nursing homes are in the last year of life and need to be managed accordingly. We need recognition that those living independently or being supported at home and who have issues of dependency, frailty, and dementia should be treated differently and kept out of hospital. There is plenty of work for all to do in increasing prevalence and increasing dependency.”
In response to this perceived lack of priority care for the elderly, Prof Sinclair has published a new international guideline which provides a blueprint for how diabetes should be managed in older age alongside frailty.
The document, entitled ‘An International Position Statement on the Management of Frailty in Diabetes’, is the first of its kind and aims to support clinical decisions to “enhance safety in management and promote high-quality care”.
It was developed using evidence from a comprehensive range of research studies from the last 15 years, with recommendations including a care pathway that spans community and hospital care, and a focus on improving overall diabetes management rather than just plying patients with medication.
Prof Sinclair added: “Frailty has become recognised as a new complication of diabetes in ageing populations and needs to be a priority for action. This is because frailty leads to excess disability in diabetes leading to earlier institutionalisatio, decreased quality of life, and premature death. Yet early prevention and management leads to longer, healthier lives.
“Quite simply older people with diabetes developing are being let down by the system, that’s why I have led the development of new international guidelines to illustrate and share a better way of caring for these people. It is part of a wider problem as generally older people with diabetes were often overlooked and over medicated, but we now need to give them the care and attention they deserve.”

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