Resilience can improve the health of older people with type 2 diabetes

  • Psychological resilience involves people’s ability to recover from and overcome trauma or other difficult life events.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that can lead to serious health problems.
  • Recent evidence suggests that psychological resilience may improve health outcomes in older adults with type 2 diabetes.

As the population ages, experts strive to understand the factors that influence healthy aging and support a better quality of life. Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) is a chronic metabolic disorder that can impact long-term health.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older people diagnosed with T2DM who had high levels of psychological resilience were more likely to have better physical functioning, better quality of life, and lower likelihood of frailty and self-reported disability.

Psychological resilience, or simply resilience, depends on people’s ability to react and adapt to complex events such as stress or trauma. It’s about bouncing back after experiencing difficulties.

Anamara Ritt OlsonPh.D., an associate professor of health, society, and behavior at the University of California, Irvine School of Public Health, not involved in the study, explained resilience to DTM in this way:

“Resilience is the incredibly common ability to withstand adversity and bounce back. It is the armor we wear to face life’s difficulties. We are often placed in the spinning cycle of life, but the resilience allows us to emerge relatively unscathed.

Both internal and external factors impact resilience. People are different, so their levels of resilience are also different. For example, adults with higher levels of social support are more likely to have stronger levels of resilience.

Resilience can impact many aspects of people’s lives, including how they cope with chronic illnesses. T2D is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects the body’s ability to use glucose as an energy source.

This requires careful long-term management. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications such as diabetic nephropathy and heart disease. Experts are always researching the best disease management methods and the factors that influence long-term health outcomes.

The experts in this ongoing study wanted to examine the impact of psychological resilience on the health of older people with T2D.

The study included more than 3,000 older adult participants with T2DM. These participants were originally enrolled in a clinical trial that compared different diabetes management interventions. The authors of the current study followed these participants an average of fourteen and a half years later. They measured a few different components among the participants:

  • resilience, using the brief resilience scale which relies on self-reporting
  • ​overnight hospitalizations in the past year
  • physical functioning, including self-assessments and examination of walking speed and grip strength
  • physical and mental quality of life
  • frailty, which was measured by unintentional weight loss, physical inactivity, low energy, slow gait, and reduced grip strength
  • depressive symptoms

Overall, the researchers found that higher levels of psychological resilience were associated with better health outcomes, including fewer hospitalizations, better physical functioning and quality of life, and fewer symptoms. of depression.

Author of the study Kay Loni OlsonPh.D., noted the following study highlights for DTM:

“In this study, we found that among older adults with type 2 diabetes, people who reported a greater degree of psychological resilience (being able to ‘bounce back from stress’) also reported better overall health related to aging. This includes metrics such as fewer hospitalizations in the previous year, lower likelihood of meeting frailty criteria, and greater mental well-being.

However, the researchers also found some variation between the association of resilience with certain measures. They note that this indicates that “some associations may differ depending on race. [or] ethnic “.

This particular study had a few limitations indicating the need for further research.

First, the study cannot determine causation. This was also a cross-sectional study, meaning the authors could not determine the directional relationship of the variables.

Other limitations relate to particular study and analysis methods. For example, they did not examine all of the socio-cultural factors that may affect resilience. They also didn’t look at specific aspects of aging, like cognitive function. The majority of participants were Caucasian and female, which may limit the generalizability of the study results.

Dr. Ritt-Olson offered the following insights and caveats:

“Their findings suggest that when older adults develop resilience, they will reap benefits for both their mental and physical strength. They may even be able to avoid hospitalizations. There are challenges with the study that the authors also acknowledge, for example, their measure of resilience is about your general perception of how quickly you bounce back. adapt. ”

Either way, the study offers insight into the important relationship between mind and body. Further research can confirm the impact of psychological resilience and provide longer-term follow-up.

“The current study cannot tell us whether psychological resilience leads to better overall health or vice versa, which means further research is important to untangle these relationships,” Dr. Ritt-Olson noted.

“In the short term, incorporating concepts such as resilience into the study of aging can not only contribute to a more holistic understanding of the aging experience, but can also help broaden the narrative around aging so that individuals feel empowered as opposed to passive participants.This intersects with efforts within the aging research community to define healthy aging not only by the absence of health-related problems, but also by the quality later years of life.

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