Over 1.3 million people who have diabetes in the UK are over 70, but there’s currently very little research on managing diabetes in older people. We plan to change that. As a first step, we’re holding workshops with people with diabetes, healthcare professional and researchers to pinpoint where research is most needed.
In the UK, nearly 40% of people with type 2 diabetes and 10% of people with type 1 are over the age of 70. We know that diabetes complications, like heart attacks and strokes, are more common in older age groups. And the effects of ageing, like frailty, can mean that diabetes self-management becomes even more challenging.
Our Diabetes Research Steering Groups (DRSGs) have looked into the issue and told us that there’s very little research on ageing with diabetes and that action is needed.
That’s why we’re holding a series of workshops to listen to the experiences of older people with diabetes, as well as researchers and healthcare professionals. We will work with the attendees to develop recommendations for the diabetes research community about what research is needed to help older people with diabetes live well with their diabetes.
This work is being led by our DRSG team, who strive to make sure that diabetes research is directed and guided by the people living with the condition. Previously, the DRSG team held a workshop on diabetes and mental wellbeing, and as a result, we put out a call for research into one of the areas we were told needed more research investment: diabetes and eating disorders. Last March, we were delighted to announce that two projects from the call had been successfully funded.
We hope these ageing well workshops will drive forward research to enable older people with diabetes to live independently in their own home, and help us find the best ways to support them to do this. We also hope that research will improve care for people living with diabetes in a care setting, whether that’s in a residential home, in a hospice or when they need acute care in hospital.
Tom Wylie is Research Manager for the DRSGs at Diabetes UK. He said:
“We’re really excited to bring together a fantastic and wide-ranging group of experts in ageing well with diabetes: brilliant researchers, dedicated HCPs and critically, experts by experience: people with lived experience of ageing with diabetes. This is a chance for them to clearly tell the world what research will make the biggest difference to the lives of people living with diabetes so that we can kick-start the work to get it done.”