Resilience may improve health among older adults with type 2 diabetes

  • Psychological resilience involves people’s ability to recover and function during trauma or other challenging life events.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to serious health problems.
  • Recent evidence suggests that psychological resilience can improve health outcomes among older adults with type two diabetes.

As the population ages, experts are working to understand the factors that influence healthy aging and promote a better quality of life. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic metabolic disorder that can affect long-term health outcomes.

A new study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older people diagnosed with T2D who had high levels of psychological resilience were more likely to have better physical functioning, higher quality of life, and less likelihood of frailty and self-reported disability.

Psychological resilience, or simply resilience, depends on people’s ability to respond and adapt to complex events such as stress or trauma. It has to do with recovery from adversity.

Annamara Ritt-Olson, Ph.D., associate professor of health, society and behavior in the School of Public Health at UC Irvine, who was not involved in the study, explained the resilience of MNT thus:

“Resilience is the incredibly common ability to endure and bounce back from adversity. It is the armor we wear to overcome the difficulties of life. We are often thrown into the loop of life, but resilience allows us to emerge relatively unscathed.

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

Resilience can affect many aspects of people’s lives, including how they cope with chronic illness. T2D is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects the body’s ability to use glucose for energy.

It requires careful long-term management. If not managed, it can lead to severe health complications such as diabetic nephropathy and heart disease. Experts are still researching the best methods of managing the disease and the factors affecting long-term health outcomes.

The experts in this current study wanted to investigate how psychological resilience affects health in older people with T2D.

The study included over 3,000 older participants with T2D. These participants were originally enrolled in a clinical trial that compared different diabetes management interventions. The current study authors followed up these participants an average of fourteen and a half years later. They measure several different components among participants:

  • resilience using the short self-reported resilience scale
  • overnight hospitalizations in the past year
  • physical functioning, including self-assessments and consideration of gait speed and grip strength
  • physical and mental quality of life
  • weakness, which is measured by unintentional weight loss, physical inactivity, low energy, slow gait, and decreased 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.

Study author Kay Loney Olson, PhD, noted the following highlights of the study MNT:

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

However, the researchers also found some variation between the relationship of resilience to some indicators. They note that this indicates that “some associations may differ based on race [or] ethnic origin.”

This particular study had several 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 certain research and analysis methods. For example, they did not address all sociocultural factors that may influence resilience. They also did not examine specific aspects of aging, such as cognitive function. The majority of participants were white and female, which may limit the generalizability of the study results.

Dr. Ritt-Olson offered the following insights and words of caution:

“Their findings suggest that when older adults build their resilience, they will find benefits for both their mental and physical strength.” They may even avoid hospitalizations. There are challenges with the study that the authors also acknowledge, for example their measure of resilience is related to your overall perception of how quickly you recover. We can overestimate our abilities to “recover” and this is unrelated to an actual event to which one must adapt.

Regardless, the research offers insight into the important mind-body connection. Additional research may confirm the impact of psychological resilience and provide longer-term follow-up.

“The current study cannot tell us whether psychological resilience causes better overall health or vice versa, which means that additional research is important to tease out these relationships,” Dr. Ritt-Olson scored.

“In the short term, incorporating concepts such as resilience into aging research may not only contribute to a more holistic understanding of the aging experience, but may also help expand the narrative around aging so that people feel empowered, unlike 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 of the later years of life.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *