Type 1 Diabetes Knows No Age: JDRF supports adult type 1 community

Here at JDRF, we believe that support for the type 1 diabetes community shouldn’t be limited to just one stage of life – we continue supporting individuals with type 1 through marriages, the growth and changes in their family lives, different careers and travels, and even complications they may face. For this reason, JDRF has been expanding its efforts to ensure that we meet the needs of adults with type 1 diabetes.

Statistics show that about half of those individuals diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are adults at the time, and that adults make up at least 85% of those living with the disease. JDRF staff and volunteers understand (often firsthand) that those adults are likely to have very different needs in comparison to children who are living with the disease. And whether people are diagnosed at five years old or at 35 years old, their interests, priorities, and needs will change as they grow older. JDRF is committed to supporting the evolving needs and priorities of both adults and children with type 1 diabetes.

One of the newest ways in which JDRF is supporting the adult type 1 community is by developing a JDRF Established Adult Type 1 Toolkit. This new resource for adults with established type 1 diabetes will be available soon to download from the JDRF homepage, and hard copies will be available through your local chapter.

Last year, we launched the JDRF Adult Type 1 Toolkit for those adults newly diagnosed with type 1, as part of our larger-scale program to provide an important resource and community for these adults. Readers like you responded, saying that you greatly enjoyed the toolkit, but wished there was one for adults with established type 1, not just for those recently diagnosed. In other words, even adults who are now experts at managing their disease could still benefit from guidance on a number of issues. Since many adults with type 1 diabetes have been living with the disease for the majority of their lives, that feedback from our readers was enormously valuable to us – in fact, it inspired us to create this new toolkit specifically for people who have had type 1 for quite some time. We are proud to be bringing this new resource to the adult type 1 community.

In the future, JDRF hopes to have more toolkits – ones that hone in on specific life stages. As all of you in the type 1 community adjust to new circumstances and routines, JDRF is looking to provide more content and tools to help you through those stages.

JDRF’s efforts to address the needs of adults with type 1 go well beyond our toolkits. In fact, we recognize that people have varying preferences when it comes to seeking support in coping with their type 1 diabetes. Some people may prefer the privacy of reading through one of our toolkits on their own, while others may do better with one-on-one interaction. That’s why JDRF also offers a Mentoring Program through its chapters, providing support and resources to any individual living with type 1 diabetes. This includes newly diagnosed families and adults, people who have been living with type 1 for a long time – all in all, everyone who is living with the day-to-day challenges of diabetes. JDRF can connect trained mentors with adults facing various life circumstances, such as workplace issues, planning to have children, financial/insurance concerns, and much more. Our adult and family mentors are volunteers who can share their personal experiences, answer non-medical questions, and most importantly, lend valuable, specialized support when it’s needed the most.

If you’re less in the mood to talk about serious issues and more interested in connecting in a fun way with other adults who have type 1, our chapters have programs for that, too! JDRF chapters are actively forming local chapter groups and activities for adults with type 1, ranging from supper clubs and coffee groups to large-scale educational and support days. Another fun and social way to get involved is through the JDRF Young Leadership Committee (YLC), which is a group of young professionals dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of JDRF. A number of JDRF chapters already have a YLC, and if yours doesn’t, you can take the lead and start a new one! The YLC hosts various fundraising, networking, and social events that attract hundreds of young professionals and provide crucial support for research to find better treatments and a cure for type 1 diabetes.

At your local JDRF chapter, you can also find support group listings, diabetes resource sheets, a calendar of Outreach events, and connections with other type 1 diabetes organizations and community groups.

In addition to adding new programs for adults with type 1, JDRF is also building out our existing ones. For example, we have added a new Resource Center to Juvenation, JDRF’s social networking site. The center offers resources to address many of the interests and concerns expressed in Juvenation forums and conversations. In addition, we have continued to build upon our list of volunteers for JDRF’s Online Diabetes Support Team (ODST). The ODST is made up of many compassionate vol­unteers who know firsthand the ever-changing demands of living with type 1 diabetes. Though ODST volunteers cannot give medical or legal advice, they can speak from the heart, based on their own experiences. Questions sent to ODST volunteers are answered within 48 hours. To reach out to the ODST, visit www.jdrf.org/diabetessupport and fill out the brief request form.

Even the JDRF homepage has expanded to include web content dedicated to adults with type 1, which you can find at www.jdrf.org/adults. This site offers a range of resources for adults with type 1, including: a “Blogger Round Table Series” (type 1 bloggers share thoughts and experiences on various topics), information on insurance coverage for continuous glucose monitors, money-saving strategies, a feature about a Broadway actress living with type 1, and an “Ask A Medical Professional” section addressing topics such as insurance and working on your diabetes management with your doctor. The site can also link you directly to the JDRF Adult Type 1 Toolkit, the JDRF Clinical Trials Connection, the ODST, Juvenation, and JDRF’s Artificial Pancreas Project website.

The team here at JDRF promises to never stop thinking of new ways to support the needs of all people living with type 1 diabetes at any life stage – point of diagnosis, relationships and marriage, pregnancy and children, careers, and managing possible complications. Please stay tuned as we continue to deliver new resources for the type 1 community, and let us know of any ideas you have by emailing us at outreach@jdrf.org.