Managing Type 1 Diabetes as You Age

People with Type 1 diabetes ? and there are almost 3 million Americans in this category ? can live long, active, and happy lives. For sure, this affliction can be troublesome. However, people who live with this disease for 50 years or longer are becoming more common all the time. By contrast, a century ago, those with Type 1 diabetes were fortunate if they reached the age of 55. Managing this condition, though, does require discipline and constant attentiveness.

When you have Type 1 diabetes, your body is unable to produce the hormone insulin. As a result, it’s difficult to change foods like starch and sugar into energy, and glucose accumulates within the bloodstream. For those reasons, you must routinely take insulin injections and keep track of your carbohydrate intake and blood sugar level. Moreover, Type 1 diabetes can induce blindness, heart disease, nervous system damage, kidney failure, the need for amputations, premature births, and other serious health problems. There’s no way to prevent it, and scientists are unsure as to what causes it. It might be that the immune systems of certain people obliterate the insulin-producing cells.

As a diabetic, information can be your most potent tool as you grow older. By continually educating yourself, you’ll keep abreast of the latest technological advances. Breakthroughs such as the insulin pump are better at imitating the human body’s natural processes, and that makes them more effective when it comes to lengthening your life.

In addition, you should see your physician and endocrinologist for examinations as often as they recommend. Most likely, you’ll be required to go to the endocrinologist about four times per year. Also visit your doctor whenever you experience any kind of abnormality, and don’t ever be shy about providing him or her with detailed descriptions of your body’s changes.

The best way to keep adverse complications at bay is to be vigilant about monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol. For instance, you should scrutinize food labels and menu ingredients at all times. Fortunately, there are more delicious sugar-free treats on the market now than ever before. Regular and vigorous exercise sessions should be part of your schedule as well ? even during vacations and holidays. Further, you should try to stay near or at your ideal body weight, and you should reduce stress as much as you can.

The Joslin Diabetes Center, a Harvard Medical School affiliate that conducts medical research, is currently working on a potentially groundbreaking study of 850 Type 1 diabetes patients. The aim of this project is to find out how people who have this condition can extend their lifespans and avoid major complications. Joslin’s George King has already identified at least one helpful trait: optimism. It might be difficult to believe, but it appears that if you have an upbeat outlook on life, you can actually make it last longer. That’s surely something to smile about.