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Life Experiences of the Elderly Patients with Diabetes Mellitus

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According to the most recent forecasts, the number of patients with different types of diabetes will reach more than 360 million globally by 2030 (Wild, Roglic, Green, Sicree, and King, 2004). The lion’s share of such occurrence is attributed to the elderly population. Most likely, the main reason for high vulnerability of the elderly population to diabetes is the ageing process that leads to a broad range of physiological changes, including decreased or deteriorated functionality of vital life organs (Rother, 2007).
A number of studies have been conducted up to date to explore the effects of diabetes on the general health condition of the elderly patients. However, only few works are available to investigate specific life experiences of the elderly patients with diabetes though such research is necessary to improve the quality of health care for the elderly.
Various types of diabetes and chronic illnesses associated with late adulthood represent a serious challenge for modern health care practitioners. According the estimates provided by the National Academy on an Aging Society (NAAS) and APA almost 4/5 of the elder adult population suffers from at least one chronic illness, while majority of seniors have multiple chronic health problems the most common of which are arthritis, hypertension, hearing impairments, heart disease, cataracts, various types of diabetes, osteoporosis, vascular diseases, neurological diseases, including stroke, and respiratory diseases (APA, 2003). Absolute majority of these illnesses and health problems are associated with specific life experiences, psychological issues and mental health problems, which should be taken into consideration during treatment (Frazer, Leicht, &amp. Baker, 1996).
Understanding of specific life experiences of senior diabetic patients is highly essential in the clinical setting for several reasons. Firstly, it will enable the health practitioner to design a correct treatment strategy to cope with the disease and improve quality of the patient’s life. Secondly, such understanding is likely to contribute greatly to the efficiency of non-clinical (social) support of the diabetic patients and decrease the occurrence of complications, such as, for example, hypoglycemic episodes.
This study employs phenomenological approach to investigate the specific life experiences and meaning of life of senior patients with diabetes.
Literature review
There is sufficient literature addressing various aspect of diabetes and particularly its relationship with the quality of patient’s life. The following review briefly describes several most notable publications that provide valuable background information in the context of this study.
One of the most recent studies carried out by Peck (2003) establishes a link between several chronic illnesses including type 2 diabetes in the elderly population and quality of life. The concept of ‘quality of life’ covers a number of different aspects such as food preferences, level of physical activity, psychological issues and social status, etc. Besides, the author provides some credible evidence that ability of the elderly diabetic patients to effectively cope with the illness normally results in substantially improved qualify of