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

Lenore Hernandez, Heather Leutwyler, Janine Cataldo, Alka Kanaya, Arthur Swislocki, Catherine Chesla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background 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. Objective 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. Methods 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. Results 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. Discussion 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-382
Number of pages9
JournalNursing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • diabetes-related distress
  • older adult
  • symptoms
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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