I attended a gerontology focused research conference this past week, and noticed two things that are worth sharing. First, I was saddened to see how many people didn’t know about the diabetes online community (DOC). With the baby boomers rapidly aging, many with chronic conditions (diabetes included), boomers represent one of the fastest growing groups that are becoming involved with social networking and online health communities.
I was glad to be there to provide education about the DOC, and how important it is. My colleagues have agreed that this is an area that needs more attention. However, without more research showing positive outcomes among users, it will more difficult to get health care providers to recommend or prescribe the DOC to their patients. This will be the area of focus for my dissertation.
The second thing I noticed was the fact that type 2 diabetes is heavily researched in the geriatric population, while type 1 is not. Why is this? One health care provider at this conference told me that they didn’t believe people with type 1 diabetes live to be elderly. Boy, are they wrong! I have personally taken care of quite a few individuals with type 1 diabetes, in their mid 70-80s, who continue to thrive after living with the diagnosis for several decades. In fact, there are several individuals who have been recognized for the length of time they have lived with diabetes, or been on insulin.
As a health care provider, I see challenges due to lack of awareness among health care providers that needs to be overcome. How can I create a buzz about the importance of the DOC, and the fact that individuals with type 1 diabetes are living longer? It seems a little overwhelming to try and reach so many health care providers, and change their mind about these topics. My husband always tells me, “slow and steady wins the race”. Hopefully the rapid fire of social media will help me get there a little quicker!