Nutrition and diabetes self-management in aged care: Exploring community-dwelling older adults' expectations

Publication Name

Australasian Journal on Ageing


Objectives: To explore the diabetes self-management expectations of older adults with diabetes, not yet accessing residential aged care services. Admission to residential aged care (RAC) can create many interruptions to usual food choices and diabetes self-management, and we know little about the concerns of the emerging ageing population. Methods: This is a qualitative study employing focus groups and inductive thematic analysis involving 18 older adults with diabetes between the ages of 60 and 88, living in their own homes within an Australian city. Focus groups were recruited on a sequential basis and progressively analysed using an inductive process until data saturation was reached. Focus groups were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim for thematic analysis. Results: Three key themes were generated: autonomy, individualised dietary management and the food service system. Older adults speculated that they would want a collaborative approach to maintain their health in ageing and to self-manage their diabetes while feasible. Participants wanted autonomy over food choices, flexible meal timings and quality meals. There was a significant anxiety that aged care staff and existing food service systems in RAC could not support these preferences. Conclusions: Community-dwelling older adults with diabetes would highly value aged care services that facilitated autonomy, individualised nutrition support and flexibility, but feared this will not be feasible. The introduction of new diabetes and RAC guidelines may require an implementation plan to include the full food service system, from staff education to meal preparation, ordering and service.

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