Over periods of years,, the high levels of blood sugar that is the hallmark of diabetes, cause damage to blood vessels, nerves, and various other tissues. Up to 90% of people with type 1 diabetes, experience damage to the eye’s retina (a condition called diabetic retinopathy within 20 years of their diagnosis. surprisingly, the Joslin Medalists, had half the diabetic retinopathy after 50 years living with the disease. As reported in the journal Diabetic Care, the Medalists also experienced less kidney damage and nerve damage than would be expected for Seniors who have been living with Diabetes for 50 plus years.
Investigators at the Joslin Diabetes Center are working to identify why these cells have survived and how they are still able to generate insulin. The Diabetic study will continue to recruit, interview, and test the Medalists. They are looking for a pattern that might be able to help others who live with Diabetes a live long life . One surprising commonality: “It’s amazing how many of the Medalists say they enjoy ballroom dancing,” says Keenan.
While living with diabetes still has challenges, it is much easier today than it was for the Joslin 50-year Medalist. Modern technology has made living with diabetes a manageable life style
Checking blood sugar can now be done in a few seconds instead of hours. The ease make it more likely for seniors who are living with diabetes to be aware and mange their diabetes.
Many types of long and short-acting insulin are also readily available to seniors with are living with diabetes to control their blood sugar. The Med-q pill box with alarm is a great tool to make sure you don’t forget. It is even easier as insulin pens have replaced the old fashion syringes. Automatic programmable pill dispenser can solve the forgetting medication problem. By improving blood sugar control, these advances are helping people with diabetes live longer. The lessons that are being learned from studying the Seniors in the 50-year medalists may help others living with Diabetes have the quality of life they deserve.
“It is clear that these long-term survivors are somehow protected against the complications of type 1 diabetes,” said Hillary A. Keenan, co-principal investigator of the 50-Year Medalist Study and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. ” Identifying factors that confer this protection could point the way to new therapies to prevent or minimize complications.” Surprisingly, more than two-thirds of the study participants, beta cells in the pancreas were still making small amounts of insulin. “If we could find a way to stimulate these beta cells to become more active, it might be possible to regenerate the body’s ability to make insulin,” said Keenan. Surprisingly, more than two-thirds of the study participants, beta cells in the pancreas were still making small amounts of insulin. “If we could find a way to stimulate these beta cells to become more active, it might be possible to regenerate the body’s ability to make insulin,” said Keenan.