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Symptom Experience of Older Adults With Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetes-Related Distress.

  • Author(s): Hernandez, Lenore;
  • Leutwyler, Heather;
  • Cataldo, Janine;
  • Kanaya, Alka;
  • Swislocki, Arthur;
  • Chesla, Catherine
  • et al.


An older, more diverse population and longer life spans are major contributors to the anticipated tripling of Type 2 diabetes prevalence by 2050. Diabetes-related distress affects up to 40% of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and may be a greater risk for older adults due to greater prevalence of comorbidities.


The objective of this phenomenological study was to describe how diabetes-related distress in older adults (≥65 years) with Type 2 diabetes might be uniquely experienced.


Participants were recruited using convenience sampling and snowball sampling. Interpretive phenomenology guided the research design and analysis. With interpretive interviews, we investigated the everyday health, symptoms, and life experiences of living with Type 2 diabetes and elevated diabetes distress.


Among the older adults in this study, the most prevalent symptoms were fatigue, hypoglycemia, diarrhea, pain, loss of balance, and falling. These diabetes-related symptoms led to substantial loss of independence, decreased quality of life, and constrained social lives due to restricted activities.


Diabetes-related distress presents with some unique symptoms and responses in older adults. Improving knowledge regarding the symptom experience of older adults with diabetes-related distress may allow healthcare providers to tailor treatment and thus improve outcomes for older adults struggling with diabetes.

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