Over the past decade, eight classes of drugs have been used to treat diabetes; however, insulin remains the most effective and least costly treatment for older adults. The American Diabetes Association has recommended that the approach to drug therapy of diabetes consider insulin a first-tier therapy. Nevertheless, there is a general reluctance among physicians and patients alike to accept insulin. The initiation of insulin therapy is especially challenging in older adults, who often have multiple comorbidities and physical limitations. In this article, we present a case-based approach to the initiation of insulin therapy in older adults.
Key words: diabetes, older adults, insulin therapy, glycemic goals, antihyperglycemic agents.
The aging of the population and increasing prevalence of diabetes are worldwide phenomena that require a better focus on challenges of diabetes management in older adults. We now understand the benefits of tight glycemic control and have an armament of agents to achieve such a feat. However, in an aging population, balance must be sought between the goals of glycemic control and those of overall health status, including quality of life. Insulin therapy, in particular, requires significant self-care abilities. Insulin therapy can be used safely and effectively if diabetes management plans are formulated with consideration of the clinical, functional, and psychosocial contexts of an older adult.
Key words: diabetes, older adults, insulin therapy, geriatrics, glycemic control.
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