Background: Diabetes self-care (DSC) is the cornerstone of diabetes management however DSC depends on the individuals’ goals and capabilities. There is a link between diabetes, ageing and functional decline and a subsequent risk of inadequate DSC in people with diabetes as they age.
Aim: To explore the DSC perspectives of community-dwelling older people with diabetes (OPWD).
Method: A mixed method study was undertaken. Community-dwelling OPWD were recruited from a regional health service using purposive sampling. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, the Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities (SDSCA) and a medical record audit. Qualitative interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the Ritchie and Spencer Framework Method. Demographic and quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics.
Findings: Nine community-dwelling OPWD participated: six males and three females, aged 67-84 years (SD 6.09, Median 74.1). Participants had type 2 diabetes, duration 2-20 years (SD 5.91, Median 11.2). Participants highlighted their awareness of DSC by describing how they undertook daily exercise, monitored their diet and blood glucose and how they managed their diabetes medicines. Participants described how ageing and functional limitations can make some DSC activities difficult to undertake. All participants under-reported their diabetes complications compared with complications documented in their medical record. Three main self-care issues emerged from the interviews: ‘you’ve got to be careful’, ‘it’s hard work’ and ‘it’s all trial and error.’ The SDSCA data supported the qualitative findings and suggest OPWD found some DSC activities difficult to manage; however proactive planning could reduce some difficulties.
Conclusion: OPWD were aware of and integrated most DSC activities into their daily life. They were aware their diabetes would progress as they aged and described some functional limitations that affected their ability to perform DSC. However, three participants indicated planning helped them to undertake DSC, particularly managing diet and medicines.