Diabetes - Type 1 Community
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Avatar universal

I have an important question...

My wife (who i've been married to for a little over a year) was diagnosed with type 1 at age 11. She is now 25. Basically, I just want to know what the average life span of a person with juvenile diabetes is. I am terrified that i am going to lose her in 10 years. (not because she doesn't take care of herself, i see to it that she does) but because i haven't been able to find any info on how long they can live. I heard the other day that the oldest living person with type 1 diabetes is 61. is that true? if anyone has any info, or personal experiences, please let me know. thank you
12 Responses
Avatar universal
I am glad to be ablet to tell you that I have read of type 1 diabetics who have lived to be 90+ years old. The statistics that are available state that the average expectancy of a lifespan for type 1 diabetics is a life 15 years shorter than the average lifespan. However, statistics cannot be tabulated for a particular generation until all from that generation have died, so we truly do not have statistics for the current generation with today's treatments. I am a middle-aged type 1 who was diagnosed back in 1969 -- treatments have changed a LOT since then. Back then, there were no glucometers, and good control was not possible. Even growing up with the poor control that was the best that we could do, I managed to live thus far without damages. I am currently 47 and have no damage thus far. Your statistic about the 61-year-old being the oldest living type 1 is absolutely NOT true. I have read articles about people in their 80s and 90s who are type 1 diabetics, although they are not the norm according to current statistics.

According to what we DO know about longevity and type 1 diabetes, good control does make a difference in how long people with type 1 diabetes live. Complications that can shorten lives are directly related to years of higher-than-normal glucose levels which then damage small blood vessels feeding vital organs. It then follows that if damage is caused by higer-than-normal glucose levels, one can safely reason that PREVENTION of damage is directly related to normal glucose levels. So I encourage you and your wife to work hard (and it IS hard work on a daily and even hourly basis) to monitor her glucose levels to keep them in the normal 70-126 range. While all type 1 diabetics occasionally make a mistake in judging the carbohydrate count of foods and figuring the insulin dose required, tight glucose control has been proven to protect the body from damage.

So don't assume that your wife has no future. Even with the poor conditions that existed years ago, some folks in the generations ahead of me still are alive. So even though we cannot see into the future, we think we will see more type 1 diabetics living longer as good control over glucose levels is made easier and easier by the advent of equipment such as glucometers and  new insulins and pumps. I personally know of people who have had relatives who were type 1 diabetics who lived well into 80's and even 90's, so don't give up on your wife. There is a direct correlation between efforts NOW to keep her a1c number as close to 6 as possible and certainly below 7 and her future health. I hope to keep avoiding complications by doing that and hope to be a happy old lady some day watching my grandson (now age 3) grow up. So far, it is working. I wish your wife the best, and I encourage her to protect her health by keeping up the daily walk with frequent monitoring of those glucose levels and adjustment with appropriate insulin.
Avatar universal
The short answer is that people with Type 1 Diabetes and who look after themselves well have a normal life expectancy. 40 years ago, it was felt that T1 Diabetics could expect 20 good years before diabetic complications started setting in. And severe complications like heart disease and kidney failure were expected to to be the ultimate cause of death. But that is no longer the case.

Methods for treating diabetes have improved so much over the last 40 yerars that maintaining near normal blood sugars is quite achievable. This means that the risk of developing complications can be virtually eliminated without relative ease.

I am 48 years old and have been a T1 for 27 years. I don't have any significant complications. A tiny micro aneurism was picked up in my last eye test. But it should have cleared up by the time I have the next eye test done. I have reduced my HBA1c substantially during the last 12 months.

I won't allow complications to reduce my quality of my life for at least another 27 years. I have the required determination and all the tools I need to engineer this outcome. And so does your wife.

In fact, things should get easier for her as the technology develops. Some really exciting developments are in the pipeline.


Avatar universal
Well I don't if this helps, but I was talking to a grandmother yesterday who has been diabetic since she was 6. And she is still going strong.
Avatar universal
We diabetics who take care of ourselves can expect to live long & healthy lives.  I think your information was old or incorrect.  I happen to know of folks who've had diabetes for more than 60 years and they are an inspiration to many of us.  When they were diagnosed, insulin was fairly new and BG monitoring was unheard of.

Some of the sobering statistics on diabetes mortality, come, in my opinion (I"m not a physician but have had diabetes 35+ years), from the many hundreds of thousands of diabetics who do NOT take care of themselves.  Some cannot afford to; some remain in denial; some lack the support & encouragement to stay the course even when times are tough (that's where loving hubbies have a bit role!); some (mostly Type 2s) do not know they have disease and suffer the horrible complications without knowing.

If you & your wife make good health a priority, you will grow old together.  A healthy diabetic lifestyle is pretty much what's recommended for normal folks, too.  I haven't seen any data on this, but I'd be willing to bet that diabetics who take good care of ourselves outlive our nonDiabetic peers who have the "luxury" to eat whatever they want whenever they want ;-)  

Learn all you can.
Avatar universal
Hi Zeke...
I'm not diabetic, but my husband of 10 yrs is. Our situations sound very similar. We were married when we were 25 and he's been T1 since he was 14... 20 years now. It is challanging at times to be married to a person affected by diabetes. And I too, was scared about losing him sooner than I should. I'm not so much anymore. He is very good about keeping tight control on his levels -- and that's for himself as well as for me. Making it easier on us both. He goes to the dr. every 3 mos to get his a1c tests taken. And I watch after him, not nagging (well sometimes, it can't be helped. :-)  ), but just letting him know I'm worried and it's because I love him. I need to remind myself that it really is harder on him, although I sometimes get the brunt of his bad days. Together, we can help him to be healthier today, which will make him stick around longer for tomorrow.
And this web site is a great place to be. I read here several times a week, just to hear other peoples stories, advice and problems. We've used several pieces of information here and applied it to our lifestyle.
Please, keep a positive attitude and take one day at a time. And, really, contact me if you have a question or need to vent, being a spouse is quite trying sometimes, let alone being the spouse of a T1 -- no offense to the T1's out there... it's just apart of  our lives!! Wouldn't give up my Hubby for anyone...!   :-)
(Zeke: don't know if I'm allowed to give my email out here.... I'll look back for a post from you....)
take care,
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I just wanted to say, keep your hopes up!  It is highly likely that your wife will live for a very long time.  My father was diagnosed at 3, and he made it 43 years (he was 46 when he passed away), even with his first 26 years being out of control.  So, first off, if your wife, or anyone else for that matter, is not in control, please do get in control.  As my pediatric endocrinologist told me when I was diagnosed, "There is no way to reverse the complications of out-of-control diabetes, however, by getting your diabetes back in control, you stop the complications dead in their tracks."  I'm not sure if this is still true or not, but it is something that I think about often.  Also, especially with all of the advancements in technology now (like the one MiniMed is working on, hoping to have out in a few years, where the pump is implanted and the bg machine you use sends to the pump how much insulin you need for corrections, and you use an RF device to punch in the numbers), there is sure to be unlimited possibilities in all of our futures for a happy, healthy life.  Keep your chin up, and most importantly, cherish each and every moment you have with anyone you love :)

Avatar universal
Thanks for the reassurances.  I'm reading on as a parent of a very young Type 1 diabetic, and the short life-expectancy spectre crosses my mind, too, occasionally.

Clearly, however, BG control is vital.  Since it's the only thing we can control, it's the best thing to focus on.

Good luck zeke,
Avatar universal
You needn't worry about losing your wife.  You should worry about her quality of life.  Encourage her to keep her blood sugars normal.  When blood sugars are left to run haywire, they go very high and when left high, various tissues in the body wear out.  When the tissues wear out beyond the point of repair, the complications of diabetes result:  neuropathy, blindness, failed kidneys, heart disease, etc.  When her blood sugars are normalized, it is effectively the same as not being diabetic.  Here is a website for a book that has helped me  http://www.diabetes-book.com/
Maybe it will help her too.   She's very lucky to have you to care for her.
Avatar universal
i'm no doctor, but let me say i've already lived longer than expected by the physicians who diagnosed me. i am 52 and was told i wouldn't hit 50. But had diabetes care not changed, i have questioned whether they were right in warning me.
    But good blood glucase control is paramount to living the best life with diabetes. i also have bipolar disorder and when my mental health issues weren't controlled by medication when i would have manic or depressed episode i certainly wouldn't take care of myself. i have some complication, mostly nerve damage and control both my bipolar disorder and diabetes. But i don't feel like i'll die soon and intend on being there for my wife for a long time to come. Wishing you the best, bret
Avatar universal
My Aunt who had Type I diabetes lived until she was almost 80!   When one takes the very best care of themselves that they are able, that is the best you can do...   Just like all of us, one day at a time - live each day to the fullest - be thankful for them all...   GOD bless you & your sweetheart...   true love is one of the best meds one can have for any illness...   You're a good man - keep up the good work !!!   Bye for now...
Avatar universal
I don't want to sound like a preacher, but..

Whether or not you believe in God i don't know. However it is GOD who decides when a person's time has come to leave this world.

Believe me, if God want's someone's soul to leave this world, (when he decides that that person's time has come) he has many ways of carrying this out. This is regardless of how healthy and in-shape one is. I don't care if he/she
works-out for 16 hours a day, eat's broccoly and takes ten million vitamin's, the same bullet will penetrate his butt (excuse me) as well!

What you mentioned about a diabetics average life expectancy of 61 years, is like saying that the average life expectancy of someone who drives a car is about three month's.

How many people die per year from car-accidents? how many in fire? flood's? crime? water? poisoning?

You can see clearly, that regardless of how in-shape and healthy you are, it is GOD who decides when your time has come.

How many "healthy" people died in the recent tzunami?

Obviously one would rather not have diabetes, but bear in mind that GOD gives everyone equal problem's, and furthermore he only gives one a problem if he know's that he/she can handle it.

And on the contrary, i think that you should respect your wife, for this showes that she is emotionally capable of handling what billion's of people cannot!!!

If you have any question's such as "why god had to pick me?" or "why is god doing this to me?"  I suggest you visit www.meaningfullife.com and order the book "toward a meaningful life". you might even be able to find the answers on the site itself.

Good luck!
Avatar universal
im in my mid 50s severe diabetic lots of complications my husband divorced didnt want to deal with my medical bills or my medical problems so he went his way was i hurt yes but what im wanting to say i wasnt discovered that i was a type 1 diabetic not type 2 until severe damage has been already done i was8 yrs old was dying with rehumatic fever so the drs never found my diabetic problem but with all the damages thats done im not giving up my God heals i think im on that list gerri  tschaenn hang in there pray i do im raising my grandson also
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