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02 November 2020

01. Managing Complications of Diabetes

What Should You Do?

It is very important to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to lower your blood pressure if it is high.

Common Complication

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is very common in people with diabetes. Older adults who have high blood pressure are at increased risk for strokes and heart attacks. High blood pressure can also affect your vision, kidneys, and circulation.


Older adults with diabetes have an increased risk of depression. Living with diabetes can be demanding and stressful—and that may contribute to depression.

⮚Common signs of depression in older people include:

  • ⮚Sadness
  • ⮚Feeling tired often
  • ⮚Losing interest in things you used to enjoy
  • ⮚Having sleep problems, either difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • ⮚Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • ⮚Finding it difficult to do things you need to do
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of depression. There are many treatments for depression and your provider can help you find the best choice for you. They should see you for a check-up within six weeks of your starting treatment to make sure the treatment is working and does not cause unwanted side effects.

    Because diabetes can increase the risk of depression, all older adults should be checked for signs of depression within three months of being diagnosed with diabetes.


    Older adults have an increased risk of falls that can cause serious injuries. Having diabetes increases that risk even more, because diabetes can affect your vision, balance, and the feeling in your feet. Older adults with diabetes are more likely to take multiple medications, which can also increase risks of falls.

    If you have had a fall, let your healthcare provider know—even if you did not hurt yourself. That way they can figure out what caused the fall and how you can prevent falls in the future.

    Urinary Incontinence

    Diabetes can cause a loss of bladder control (incontinence) because it damages nerves in the bladder. Those nerves may tell your body that your bladder is full, and you need to urinate. Bladder infections are also common in people with diabetes and can cause urinary incontinence as well.

    Urinary incontinence can contribute to depression, sexual problems, and injuries caused by falling while rushing to the bathroom.

    Many older adults do not tell their healthcare providers that they have urinary incontinence because they are embarrassed. Do not be. Incontinence is a medical condition that responds to treatments, and the sooner you tell your healthcare provider, the sooner they can help you.

    Memory Problems

    Older adults with diabetes have a higher risk of memory and thinking problems, called cognitive impairment. This can affect a person’s ability to think clearly, recall, remember, and use good judgment, among other things.

    If you feel that you are not thinking as clearly as usual, or are having difficulty remembering things, tell your healthcare providers. They can check other tests to see if there is a medical reason for the cognitive changes. Many of these can be treated.

    People with untreated depression often have cognitive problems. It is very important that you are screened for depression if you think there have been changes in your thinking.

    Nerve Pain

    Diabetes can cause nerve damage, called neuropathy. Neuropathy can cause burning feelings, tingling, and numbness. It can also limit feeling in your feet and lead to other foot problems such as ulcers. Neuropathy can also lead to continuing (persistent) pain.

    You should talk to your healthcare provider about treatments for ongoing pain. When deciding what treatments to recommend, your healthcare provider should consider potential side effects of treatments, your goals of treatment, and possible medication interactions. Better blood sugar control may stop the neuropathy from getting worse.

    Multiple Medications

    Many older adults have several ongoing health problems and take many medications. Prescribing drugs for these older patients can be complicated. Some medicines are helpful for one health problem, but when taken with another medication, may cause harmful side effects.

    One of the most important things you can do to prevent medication problems is keep a list of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take. This list should also include vitamins, herbs, and other supplements you use. You should update this list whenever anything changes, and should share the changes with all of your healthcare providers.

    Note: Visit Dr.Swapna’s Diabetic care for Medications That Older Adults Should Avoid Or Use With Caution for information on medications that may be inappropriate or harmful for certain older people.

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