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Sharing diagnosis of diabetes improves ability to cope with disease

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The incidence of type 2 diabetes increases with age, joining hearing loss as one of America’s most widespread health concerns.  More than half of all U.S. adults with diabetes are seniors.  That amounts to more than 23 percent of people over the age of 60 having a disease that can directly impact their ability to age independently.   There’s some overlap between hearing loss and diabetes (those with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss as those in the general population), although scientists don’t know exactly why the two are related.  Other serious complications include vision loss, cognitive impairment and mobility issues (at least half of all people with diabetes develop neuropathy).

In 2001, Penn State College of Medicine ran a study called the DAWN (Diabetes Attitudes, Wishes and Needs) study that performed an analysis of personal accounts of people with diabetes.  What they found was that 41 percent of adults with diabetes had poor psychosocial well-being.  A second study called DAWN2 followed up on the earlier study and found that 46 percent of people with diabetes had negative emotional, psychological and social experiences related to diabetes.

People with diabetes struggle with the perceptions of their work environment as well as struggling with anxiety, fear, worry, depression and feelings of hopelessness.  Many reported discrimination at work including losing their job due to their illness.    But, there were also positive outcomes.  Some people found that knowing they had diabetes caused them to eat healthier or connect with family members more in order to deal with problems.  Some felt that it gave them an appreciation for what they had.

What came out of the two studies is that people with diabetes should share their diagnosis and experiences with the people they love.  Failure to do so often resulted in feeling isolated and disconnected whereas sharing often resulted in family members having a deeper understanding of how to help, and relieved stress and improved the ability of the individual with diabetes to live with the disease.  Read more about diabetes here.

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