and Medicine for Seniors
Diabetes Patients Cope with Positive Outlook, Social
Almost one out of every four senior citizens age 60
and over has diabetes, more than half of all U.S. adults with diabetes
Getting Old is
Editor's Note: Getting old
is challenge enough but almost one in four senior citizens in
the U.S. also has to cope with the challenges of Type 2
Learn more about diabetes below -
insert in news report.
Sept.9, 2014 - A positive outlook and support from
people around them help patients with diabetes cope with psychosocial
challenges of the disease, according to an international study that
included researchers from
College of Medicine. A better understanding of the emotional,
psychological and social challenges people with diabetes face could
improve health outcomes.
Second Diabetes Attitudes, Wishes and Needs (DAWN2) study is the largest
analysis yet undertaken of personal accounts of people living with
diabetes. The original DAWN study in 2001 found that 41 percent of
adults with diabetes have poor psychosocial well-being.
In the follow-up study, almost half - 46 percent -
of people with diabetes had negative emotional, psychological and social
experiences related to their illness.
Two major negative themes emerged. People with
diabetes reported feeling anxiety, fear, worry, depression and
hopelessness about their condition, and they experienced discrimination
at work and misunderstanding from the public. One in five study
participants reported workplace discrimination including losing their
job due to their illness.
The researchers administered online, telephone and
in-person questionnaires to 8,596 people with diabetes living in 17
countries including the United States and Canada. Patients with type 1
diabetes and patients with type 2 diabetes were included. The results
appear in the latest edition of Diabetes Care.
About Diabetes (MedlinePlus)
Diabetes expected to increase in U.S. due to booming population
of senior citizens
Diabetes is a disease in which
your blood glucose, or
blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the
foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get
into your cells to give them energy.
type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With
type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not
make or use insulin well.
Without enough insulin, the
glucose stays in your blood. You can also have
prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than
normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having
prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2
Over time, having too much glucose
in your blood can cause
It can damage your
Diabetes can also cause
stroke and even the need to remove a limb. Pregnant women can
also get diabetes, called
A blood test can show if you have
diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal
plan can help control your diabetes. You should also monitor
your glucose level and take
Type 2 diabetes is more common in
older people, especially in people who are overweight, and
occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, some
Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander
Americans, and Hispanics/Latinos. National survey data in 2007
indicate a range in the prevalence of diagnosed and undiagnosed
diabetes in various populations ages 20 years or older:
>> Age 60 years or older:
12.2 million, or 23.1 percent, of all people in this age group
>> Age 20 years or older:
23.5 million, or 10.7 percent, of all people in this age group
12.0 million, or 11.2 percent, of all men ages 20 years or older
11.5 million, or 10.2 percent, of all women ages 20 years or
older have diabetes.
>> Non-Hispanic whites:
14.9 million, or 9.8 percent, of
all non-Hispanic whites ages 20 years or older have diabetes.
>> Non-Hispanic blacks:
3.7 million, or 14.7 percent, of all non-Hispanic blacks ages 20
years or older have diabetes.
Diabetes to Increase with Aging
Diabetes prevalence in the United
States is likely to increase for several reasons. First, a large
segment of the population is aging.
National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases
As part of the follow-up study, researchers asked
people with diabetes about their successes with the condition, as well
as their challenges. Again, two themes emerged. Personal resilience
through a positive outlook on the disease, as well as support from
family, friends and healthcare professionals helped people deal with the
psychosocial challenges of diabetes.
"We found that although these negative experiences
with diabetes exist, people also held on to the positives," said
Heather Stuckey, assistant professor of medicine and lead
qualitative investigator for DAWN2.
"Some said diabetes made their lives a little
richer because they ate healthier foods, or they were able to connect
with their family more to overcome challenges. It gave them a better
appreciation of what they have."
A recent update to the National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey found that a large percentage of people
with diabetes have poorly controlled glucose levels. Researchers believe
uncontrolled diabetes cannot be explained by lack of diabetes knowledge
alone, so the DAWN studies consider psychosocial factors that
"We believe that what's under the surface -- what
people are thinking and feeling, and how they're reacting to diabetes
and making meaning of it -- is what is driving poor diabetes
self-management," Stuckey said.
What is the message?
Several messages for people with diabetes and those
caring for them emerged from the study.
Some people with diabetes are reluctant to share
their challenges and needs because they do not want to be perceived as a
burden to family members. This creates a vicious cycle because family
members do not always know how to help, so the person with diabetes can
feel more isolated and disconnected.
"We would like to encourage patients to be able to
share their thoughts and experiences about having diabetes with family
members and other trusted individuals," Stuckey said. "We believe that
will relieve some of the stress that people experience and will improve
living with diabetes."
While dealing with diabetes can be a struggle, a
positive outlook really does help. Many of the study participants
reported a silver lining of their diagnosis, such as weight loss or a
better understanding of others' illnesses. Looking on the bright side
kept them motivated to get through challenging times.
"If we can look for the kernels of positivity
within the negativity, that's where that sense of resilience seems to be
coming from," Stuckey said.
As people with diabetes start to share, family
members often do not know how to help.
"Our advice is to ask them outright: 'Is there
anything I can do for you about your diabetes care today, or over the
next week?'" Stuckey said.
Family and friends can also educate themselves
about the disease by visiting the websites of the
American Diabetes Association and the
International Diabetes Federation, and by attending doctor's office
"Although there are negative psychosocial aspects
of having diabetes, we found that people are resilient and find ways to
adapt," Stuckey said. "If people with diabetes can be more open and
share their experiences -- and if we can listen to them -- that can
increase understanding and self-management."
Other researchers on the project were C.B. Mullan-Jensen
and S.E. Skovlund, Novo Nordisk A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark; G. Reach,
Avicenne Hospital, Bobigny, France; K.K. Burns, University of Alberta;
N. Piana, University of Perugia; M. Vallis, Dalhousie University,
Halifax, Canada; J. Wens, University of Antwerp; I. Willaing, Steno
Diabetes Center, Gentofte, Denmark; and M. Peyrot, principal
investigator, Loyola University Maryland.
Novo Nordisk, a manufacturer of diabetes care
products, funded this study.