In this secondary analysis, we examined whether older adults with diabetes (aged 60–75 years) could benefit from self-management interventions compared with younger adults. Seventy-one community-dwelling older adults and 151 younger adults were randomized to attend a structured behavioral group, an attention control group, or one-to-one education.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We measured A1C, self-care (3-day pedometer readings, blood glucose checks, and frequency of self-care), and psychosocial factors (quality of life, diabetes distress, frustration with self-care, depression, self-efficacy, and coping styles) at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months postintervention.
Both older (age 67 ± 5 years, A1C 8.7 ± 0.8%, duration 20 ± 12 years, 30% type 1 diabetes, 83% white, 41% female) and younger (age 47 ± 9 years, A1C 9.2 ± 1.2%, 18 ± 12 years with diabetes, 59% type 1 diabetes, 82% white, 55% female) adults had improved A1C equally over time. Importantly, older and younger adults in the group conditions improved more and maintained improvements at 12 months (older structured behavioral group change in A1C −0.72 ± 1.4%, older control group −0.65 ± 0.9%, younger behavioral group −0.55 ± 1.2%, younger control group −0.43 ± 1.7%). Furthermore, frequency of self-care, glucose checks, depressive symptoms, quality of life, distress, frustration with self-care, self-efficacy, and emotional coping improved in older and younger participants at follow-up.
The findings suggest that, compared with younger adults, older adults receive equal glycemic benefit from participating in self-management interventions. Moreover, older adults showed the greatest glycemic improvement in the two group conditions. Clinicians can safely recommend group diabetes interventions to community-dwelling older adults with poor glycemic control.