HealthDay News – American seniors with diabetes are starting to live longer without disabilities, according to a study published online June 10 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Researchers analyzed data from national surveys and found that adults with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes who were born in the 1940s generally became disabled at an older age than those born in the 1930s. Still, the study also found that after age 50, those with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes had a shorter life expectancy before age 70 and more years of living with disability than those without diabetes.

“Over the past 2 decades, we have seen an increase in the length of good disability-free years of life in older Americans aged 50 to 70, both with and without diabetes,” study author Barbara Bardenheier, PhD, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in a journal news release. “Our findings suggest that efforts to promote healthy lifestyles, advancements in the management of diabetes and other chronic conditions such as heart disease, and the increasing popularity of procedures such as hip and knee replacements have been successful in ‘compressing disability’ — reducing the number of years with disability into later years.”

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Whether the trend will continue remains to be seen, researchers added. “This study is important as it highlights the success and advancements in the management of chronic conditions in the postponement of disability,” Evelyn Wong, PhD, from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, author of an editorial accompanying the study, said in the news release. However, she added, “future studies on the cost of this postponement of disability in light of the increasing prevalence of diabetes [need] to be considered.”


  1. Bardenheier BH, Lin J, Zhuo X, et al. Compression of disability between 2 birth cohorts of US adults with diabetes, 1992-2012: a prospective longitudinal analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2016. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(16)30090-0.
  2. Wong E. Diabetes and compression of disability in the USA. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2016. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(16)30116-4.