January 15, 2016

Men Become Disabled, Die Sooner Than Women

According to research behind a paywall in Diabetes Care, a middle-aged U.S. adult with diabetes will develop a disability 6 to 7 years earlier than an adult without diabetes and spend more years in a disabled state.

In an analysis of national survey data spanning 14 years, researchers found that the associations between diabetes status, disability-free years, and disabled years were similar among men and women, with disability differences between diabetic and nondiabetic adults decreasing with age.

Barbara H. Bardenheier, PhD, MPH, of the division of diabetes translation and the immunization safety office at the CDC, and colleagues wrote, “We found that diabetes is associated with a substantial deterioration of nondisabled years, and this is a greater number of years than on the loss of longevity associated with diabetes,”

The one fact that stands out is this - “Men with diabetes spent about twice as much of their remaining years disabled (20%-24% of remaining life across the three disability definitions) as men without diabetes (12%-16% of remaining life). Women with diabetes spent about 1.5 times as much of their remaining years disabled (27%-32%) than women without diabetes (20%-22%).”

This means that disabled men die sooner that disabled women. This is not stated in the article, but is significant. I can hazard a guess for the reason this happens. Many men refuse to manage their diabetes and develop complications earlier than most women. I see more women on diabetes forums asking for advice to help their husband or significant other that is not managing their diabetes and refuses to change their eating and other habits. Most are desperate and pleading for suggestions to help.

I have had several emails over the years of writing blogs asking for the same advice. While I have had some success, most men just won't listen to anyone, including their own doctor. Because they feel fine and have nothing that they can see or others can see, will not change their way of living. Even when they develop a complication or two, they don't believe change is necessary.

Yes, some women feel this way in the beginning, but most change when they become concerned about their children and grandchildren. Yet the male egos get in the way for most men.

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