Background: According to the American Diabetes Association, there are approximately 30.3 million Americans with diabetes, and the incidence is growing by nearly 1.5 million cases per year. These individuals are at particularly high risk of developing secondary comorbid conditions related to diabetes and aging. Nearly 45% of individuals aged 65 to 75 years use social media, and this number is steadily growing. The use of social media provides the opportunity to assess the perceptions and needs of this population. Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine stakeholder perceptions of successful aging with diabetes. Methods: This study presents a retrospective analysis of a tweet chat focused on aging with diabetes. Tweets were collected using Symplur Signals data analytics software (Symplur LLC) and analyzed for content analysis, sentiment, and participant demographics. Two authors reviewed discussion posts for accuracy of analysis. Results: A total of 59 individuals participated in this tweet chat generating 494 tweets and nearly 2 million impressions. Most (36/59, 63%) tweet chat participants were people living with diabetes; 25% (14/59) were caregivers and advocates. Seven countries were represented in the conversation. A majority (352/494, 71.3%) of the tweets indicated positive sentiment related to aging with diabetes. Five major themes emerged from the qualitative analysis: (1) personal decline now and in the future, (2) limited access to treatment, (3) inability to provide self-care, (4) health care provider capacity to support aging with diabetes, and (5) life-long online peer health support to facilitate diabetes management. Conclusions: Individuals with diabetes are living longer and want to be supported with specialized care and access to technology that will allow them to successfully age. Aging- and diabetes-related changes may complicate diabetes management into old age. People with diabetes desire options including aging in place; therefore, special training for care partners and health care providers who care for older adults is needed.
Litchman, M. L., Snider, C., Edelman, L. S., Wawrzynski, S. E., & Gee, P. M. (2018). Diabetes online community user perceptions of successful aging with diabetes: Analysis of a #DSMA tweet chat. JMIR Aging, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.2196/10176