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'With age comes wisdom almost always too late': Older adults' experiences of T2DM

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gillian Hood, J. Huber, U. Gustaffson, S. Scambler, K. Asimakopoulou

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Diabetes Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2009

King's Authors


Background: This article describes the results of qualitative work aiming to highlight and understand the experiences of older adults who have lived with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) for approximately 20 years. Methods: Twenty-eight participants (mean age, 70 years) were interviewed using a triangulated research design of in-depth, semistructured interviews, two quantitative questionnaires and the main findings from theoretical frameworks on chronic illness literature. One of the questions that the study sought to address was the advice that participants would give to a person newly diagnosed with T2DM, thereby determining self-reported priorities in the illness trajectory. The research analysis was grounded within an interpretative paradigm with emphasis on a life course approach. Results: Several themes emerged; denial and acceptance were inherent in these older adults' experiences of being diagnosed with diabetes, as was the need to fight the illness rather than let it take control of their lives. The need to prepare people for the degenerative nature of diabetes and therefore the need to commence insulin was also apparent within the sample. Conclusion: These findings indicate the diabetes journey that individuals may experience from diagnosis, acceptance and changes to self-identity. Currently, older adults with T2DM and their experiences of the illness trajectory are a little-used resource. Their 'pearls of wisdom' - sometimes recognised too late to assist themselves - may inform others with T2DM and perhaps alleviate the psychological disturbance that many feel at diagnosis and later on at the commencement of insulin.

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