Characteristics of older adults with diabetes: What does the current aged care resident look like?
AIM: The prevalence of diabetes in older adults in residential aged care (RAC) is twice that of community dwelling older adults. Older adults with diabetes have been highlighted as being at high risk of frailty and malnutrition, particularly when managed on a therapeutic diet. However, assumptions may be based on clinical presentation of our oldest old which may be at conflict with the clinical presentation of younger older adults. The aim of this retrospective audit was to identify the characteristics of aged care residents with diabetes, their comorbidities and malnutrition risk.
METHODS: Residents' with diabetes paper-based records were audited for demographic data, diet code, medical and medication history, malnutrition risk screening scores and anthropometric data.
RESULTS: A total of 295 residents with diabetes records were audited across 13 sites in South Australia. Younger older adults (65-74 years) were generally in a healthy weight range (23-30 kg/m2) or obese (>30 kg/m2) and had gained weight since admission to RAC; whereas the oldest old were more likely to have lost weight and had a lower body mass index range 22.6-28.9 kg/m2. An unexpected finding was the variability between RAC sites in dietary management of diabetes and potential inappropriate dietary management of malnutrition, as indicated by their food service diet codes.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that younger older adults in RAC are more likely to be overweight which is maintained over a typical length of stay. Study findings indicate that diabetes management is inconsistent and highlights the need for mandated RAC menu guidelines.