Type 2 diabetes in older people: pathophysiology, identification and management
Intended for healthcare professionals

Type 2 diabetes in older people: pathophysiology, identification and management

Paula Mayo Lecturer in Diabetes Care, School of Healthcare, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the differences between younger and older people in diabetes presentation

  • To recognise the challenges in diagnosing type 2 diabetes in older people

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

The general population is now living longer, with increasing numbers of older people living with more than one long-term condition. The number of older people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is also rising because of the changes resulting from the ageing process and the significant increase in obesity levels, which are affecting the provision of healthcare and individuals’ quality of life.

This article explores the implications of increased longevity and how this is linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. It explains how the presentation of type 2 diabetes differs in older people compared with younger people, making initial diagnosis increasingly challenging. Frailty and anti-diabetes medicines can affect quality of life and an older person’s risk of falls; therefore, linked to these, the article details the effects of declining functional ability and increasing cognitive impairment, and emphasises the need for regular medication reviews.

The article also provides an analysis of the care required for older people with type 2 diabetes living in care homes, including the need for flexibility in treatment targets.

Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1249

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Mayo P (2020) Type 2 diabetes in older people: pathophysiology, identification and management. Nursing Older People. doi: 10.7748/nop.2020.e1249

Published online: 10 June 2020

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now