What Is Mild Age-Related Diabetes?

Late-Onset Diabetes, Borderline Diabetes, Diabetes Mellitus, MARD

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About 1 in 10 Americans have a medical condition called diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, in which the body has challenges turning eaten food into energy. This leads to high blood sugar and sometimes other complications.

Mild age-related diabetes (MARD) is a type of diabetes diagnosed in people at a later stage of life and is typically accompanied by less severe symptoms.

This condition can sometimes be confused with prediabetes, or borderline diabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.

This article discusses mild age-related diabetes, causes, treatment options, and more.

Older woman with diabetes wearing mask.

Tempura / Getty Images

Types of Diabetes

While the names type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are similar, these two types are different. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease more likely to be diagnosed earlier in life and may be more likely based on family history. It happens when the body does not have enough insulin because the immune system attacks healthy cells that produce the insulin.

About 90% to 95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This type can be influenced by lifestyle choices and is more likely when people are not physically active, eat too much processed or sugary food, or are overweight or obese, which interferes with the body's ability to manage levels of blood sugar.

MARD is a form of type 2 diabetes that involves being diagnosed later in life and is typically accompanied by less severe symptoms.

Diabetes Types

  • Prediabetes
  • Type 1 diabetes or severe autoimmune diabetes (SAID)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Mild age-related diabetes (MARD)
  • Mild obesity-related diabetes (MOD)
  • Severe insulin resistant diabetes (SIRD)
  • Severe insulin deficient diabetes (SIDD)
  • Gestational diabetes

Mild Age-Related Diabetes Symptoms

People with mild age-related diabetes (MARD) tend to experience symptoms similar of other forms of type 2 diabetes, just in a more mild manner that may sometimes even go unnoticed.

These symptoms include:

  • Extreme thirst or dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight loss
  • Skin, bladder, or other infections

People with MARD are unlikely to face the more severe complications of diabetes, such as:

  • Blindness
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Neuropathy
  • Severe infection
  • Stroke


Mild age-related diabetes is a subtype of type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle choices and behaviors cause type 2 diabetes, but other risk factors include genetics, race and ethnicity, family history, and being overweight or obese.

The greatest risk for type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese, which can be altered by lifestyle choices such as physical activity and nutrition. Weight gain and obesity may also be caused by medical or mental health issues or medication side effects.


A healthcare provider can diagnose type 2 diabetes with a glucose screening test or glucose tolerance test, which tests blood sugar levels.

There are several different kinds of tests, including:

  • A1C: Tracks glucose levels for two to three months and determines the average
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG): Measures glucose levels at least eight hours after eating or drinking anything other than water
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT): Compares glucose levels before drinking a specific sugary drink and levels two hours later
  • Random or casual plasma glucose test: Used if someone experiences severe diabetes symptoms

People who experience glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes may be diagnosed with prediabetes.


Like other forms of type 2 diabetes, the treatment for mild age-related diabetes centers around weight loss. Healthy weight loss involves lifestyle changes such as nutritious eating and regular physical activity.

Exercise and physical activity may be more challenging for older adults, especially with mobility challenges, but there are safe options. It can be helpful to discuss exercises that work best for you with your healthcare provider.

It's also important to look at other factors that may prevent weight loss, including underlying medical or mental health conditions, stress, and sleep issues.

If your body doesn't respond to diet and exercise, medical treatment options for weight loss may include medication, bariatric surgery, or use of weight loss devices.

Although some people with diabetes take medication to help control the condition, many are able to manage with lifestyle changes alone. This is more common in less severe cases.


Since MARD is a less severe subtype of type 2 diabetes, it is less likely to lead to serious complications. It can be reversed through weight loss, often brought about by lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.


Lifestyle plays a big role in preventing and coping with mild age-related diabetes. Since weight is the biggest determinant in developing and managing this disease, weight loss can help.

Older people with mild age-related diabetes can cope by:

  • Eating the right types and amounts of food
  • Tracking glucose levels to know when to take insulin, if advised by a healthcare provider
  • Following recommendations of healthcare providers and taking any necessary medications
  • Walking, or finding other safe, physical activity

Techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, for weight loss and management can help address the mental and emotional components of weight management.


Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition that occurs when the body struggles to process food, resulting in high blood sugar levels. Mild age-related diabetes (MARD) is a less severe form of type 2 diabetes that involves being diagnosed later in life, usually with less severe symptoms.

Symptoms include dry mouth, thirst, increased need to urinate, and fatigue. The condition is caused by being overweight or obese, often brought about by an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise.

It is diagnosed through blood tests and can be treated with lifestyle changes that promote weight loss. Many people with this condition are able to manage it and live healthy lives.

A Word From Verywell

It can be challenging to be diagnosed and live with mild age-related diabetes, but the condition can be managed through lifestyle changes and weight loss, and many people are able to live healthy lives. If you or someone you know is faced with type 2 diabetes or mild age-related diabetes, help is available. Reach out to a healthcare provider, such as a primary care provider, for support.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does the risk of diabetes increase with age?

    While the risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age, it is possible to prevent and manage the condition at any age. Type 1 diabetes, however, has a higher risk for teens and decreases in adulthood.

  • Does diabetes in older adults lead to an increased risk of complication?

    Diabetes can lead to an increased risk of complications over time if it is not managed. Older adults are also at an increased risk of complications that come with the aging process. It is important to manage diabetes and seek care from healthcare providers to prevent complications.

  • Which aging factors affect diabetes and its management?

    The aging process can come with several changes that affect diabetes. As people age, they tend to produce less insulin which can lead to increased blood sugar levels. Additionally, older adults may face challenges with mobility that can lead to weight gain.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ashley Olivine is a health psychologist and public health professional with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice. She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development.