Living with type 1 diabetes is no easy feat. But now, a significant number of people with type 1 diabetes are living longer than ever before.

Joslin Diabetes Center has created a program that recognizes individuals who have lived with insulin-dependent diabetes for more than 50 years. The Joslin 50 Year Medalist Study is looking at these individuals to determine what factors allow them to be resistant to the damaging effects of diabetes such as nephropathy and proliferative retinopathy.

The Medalist population gives Joslin a unique opportunity to study genetic, environmental, psychological, and physiological factors that may be the keys to survival with the extreme duration of diabetes.

Aging gracefully

Caring for yourself with type 1 diabetes changes as you age. Mobility, energy levels, and other age-related conditions come into play. It’s important to work with your physician to know which complications you need to watch for, but here are three tips for managing type 1 diabetes as you age.

  • 1. Gain control over your glucose to prevent damage that can cause blindness and kidney disease.

  • 2. Monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure and work with your physician to come up with a heart health plan that best suits your needs.

  • 3. Don’t skip your regular exams. It’s important to meet with your physician to ensure you are up to date with the correct treatment plan and to reduce the risk of other complications.

During the first stage of the study, Joslin found that close to 50 percent of the Medalist members appeared to have escaped serious complications, which occur in almost all people with diabetes after 30 years of living with the illness. The results showed that the Medalists had controlled their blood glucose levels over the years extremely well. More candidates are needed to complete the research, but Joslin hopes to one day solve the questions revolving around type 1 diabetes long-term care.

What you can do

Avoid complications of living with type 1 diabetes by controlling your blood sugar levels, no matter your current age. “Research shows that elderly diabetics on insulin have twice the rate of disability of other elderly people,” states Everyday Health. This is a stark warning. Diabetes management requires a lot of time and effort, but with planning and keen attention to detail, it is possible to live a long life with diabetes.

To learn more about this topic:
First-Hand Tips for Growing Old with Diabetes
Healthy Aging with Diabetes
Tips for Eating Well with Diabetes after 50