Retirement and Living with Diabetes

I was employed as a teacher at the college level for 34 years (1963-1997). I had complications with my diabetes, and had to retire several years earlier than I had planned. Two years after retirement my health problem was resolved. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance, and I started taking an oral medication to help with that. My former position at the college was filled, and I was no longer needed as a full-time teacher. After retirement I taught part-time for several years, and did a lot of carpentry work and painting on my home. My strength was gradually declining, and I had too little energy for strenuous activities. I felt like a fish out of water, and was very bored much of the time. Retirement did not seem to be as great as I thought it would be.
As a teacher I did not earn a lot of money, but the fringe benefits were very good. My wife and I financed our two sons while they were in college, until they had MS degrees. We were heavily in debt by the time they graduated. Gradually we paid off our debts, and our financial situation was stable. There was too little money for traveling like I had always wanted to do. My wife did not want to travel, she was perfectly happy staying at home, and taking one trip each year to see our sons and our two grand children. I wanted to do so much more, but we could not afford it.
In 2006 I discovered a diabetes support group online at The support group there was a new found hobby for me. I soon joined other diabetes websites, and made many friends. Sharing my diabetes experiences with others was very rewarding. I helped my new friends, and they helped me. I was the only long term type 1 diabetic in most of the support groups, with more than 60 years of diabetes. My friends encouraged me to write a book about my life with type 1. That book was published in March, 2010. I was pleased with the hours I spent each day with my friends. I joined Facebook in late 2010, and found many more diabetes support groups. The parents of diabetic children were encouraged to find a long term type 1 diabetic who had good diabetes health. In July, 2013, I attended the Friends For Life Conference in Orlando, FL. It was a wonderful experience. So many great discussions, pictures taken with friends, and good food. My wife went with me to the FFL in 2015. I was a speaker that year, and I want to do that again.
More recently, health problems began to emerge. My wife needed a knee replacement in 2009, and in 2013 I had one of my knees replaced. My wife and I have arthritis, which slows us down, and makes many activities difficult. We don’t know how much longer we can make those flights to Atlanta to visit our children. Our sons are very busy with their jobs, and they find it difficult to visit us each year. We live in New York, so we are are not physically able to pack up all our belongings and move south to Atlanta.
Without the online activity and communicating with my friends, life would have become incredibly boring. With my good health, working out at the gym, taking long walks, and my online activities, I am very content. I also do a lot of projects keeping our home in good shape. My wife is very happy tending her flower gardens, spending time with her hobbies, and communicating with the neighbors. We have been married 53 years. Now, after 71 years of type 1 and at age 77, my diabetes health is still good. Retirement is good, for both of us!!


I had the good fortune to attend FFL in 2015 and meet Richard and hear his talk. @Richard157 wrote in more detail about his trip here. I was able to get a picture from the event:



It’s so important for ALL of us to hear successful, long-term Type 1 stories. I’m 31 years in and I still get scared and wonder when diabetes is going to get the upper hand once and for all. So, thank you for continually sharing your story and keeping the rest of us motivated and optimistic.

Unlike you, though, I am looking forward to retirement–long walks, bike riding, gardening, cooking foods that I can eat, etc. I’m looking forward to retirement as the time when I can finally concentrate on taking care of myself instead of taking care of my job. I plan to always work part-time but I desperately need and want more me time.

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My retirement thinking and scenario was different than yours. Thinking that my lifespan is probably reduced due to my diabetes, I wanted to retire early and enjoy my retirement, especially the early years. My original goal was to retire at 55 but that didn’t work out and I finally left my 25-year career working aviation electronics at 57 1/2. I liked my work well enough but I wanted to pursue other things like taking better care of my health.

I also wanted to move on with my life. I was never passionate about my work. It paid the bills and I enjoyed the people I worked with. Perhaps if I had a career like a teacher I would have looked at prospective retirement differently.

I feel lucky to have sufficient savings to retire early. A year after calling it quits, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, a diabetes complication. Assessing the situation, I decided that my biggest asset to commit to this health setback was the ability to devote as much time as it needed to at least arrest the symptoms and hopefully reverse some of them as well.

I took on my health and diabetes care as a full-time job. I’ve written many times about that here over the years so I won’t bore you with the repetition. In short, I gave diabetes every demand it made and I discovered that diabetes is not the bottomless pit I always thought it was. My diabetes health improved dramatically and I continue to benefit from the many changes I made back in 2012.

Enjoying a livable income without the need to show up at a job 40 hours a week is a blessing that I hope everyone can experience. It creates space to recreate yourself into a new person socially and spiritually. I love it. I read, write, walk, engage in do-it-youself diabetes tech, spend time with my daughter, and travel. I live with a magnificent hypoglycemia alert dog, Norm, who keeps me centered and always reminds me that the most important moment is right now. I look after his needs and he looks after mine. In over six years of retirement, I’ve yet to be bored

Thanks for your continued story-telling, Richard. Your long diabetes career gives hope to many of us. Heck, I’ve only had diabetes for 33 years, less than half of your experience! Your story reminds me that my longevity may not be shortened as much as I at first feared. Thank-you for that!


been off work with rotator cuff injury. been off for about 6 and a half weeks. was dx with diabetes with blood work. got about 6 and a half to go. am 60 thought about retireing at 62 but can’t do it now that insurance will be
to high with diabetes will be to high. also very bored and lonely with out job. don’t have a family and diabetes
takes a lot of fun from life. so will try to hang on till 66 . after being off this long know that retirement is not for


@nats1, I hope that you will be physically able to continue your work. When you are older you may decide that retirement is much better than it would be now.

Hi Terry4, thanks for your kind words. I hope that you and Norm have very many years to enjoy your retirement.


Richard, do you think you needed the knee replacement due to exercising too much? i was starting to have hip pain after really trying to do a lot of strenuous exercise this summer (age 52) , and i think i need to back off. what exercises have you found are the best? what do you do at the gym? thanks!

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@v_prediabetic, I had done some very heavy lifting while working outdoors on my house during the previous year. That may have contributed to an ongoing reduction in the knee cartilage. There was much pain, and no cartilage in Jan, 2013. I had one knee replaced that year.
One of the best exercises I have found are one hour walks, including some local roads with hills. I started working out at a gym in 2010. I had handicaps so I needed a trainer. The gym has several trainers who will advise which exercises are best for each person they help. I use muscle conditioning machines. I started with low weights on the machines and gradually increased the weights as time passed, and under the advisement of my trainer. I have not needed a trainer for the past few years.
Let’s see…there are machines for conditioning the biceps, triceps, hips, pectoral muscle, glut muscle, back, legs, abdomen, chest, shoulders, etc. I work out for an hour on each visit to the gym. I am not very strong, so I don’t use a lot of weights. I also have a couple of ten pound weights, and a treadmill at home.

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Excuse my one un-ethical word. Hell You and I share a lot. I had to retire from high school teaching at 55. Not typing any more - I m on my A.A.R.P. Real Pad. It is not that user friendly. Request - Would you please send me your friend request. Find me on Facebook= Les Pronin (Houston,Texas). Thanks.

@Ipronin, I am sending that request.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones! Had a job I really enjoyed and am now enjoying retirement for the past 18 years. I must have picked the right parents, because I have very few diabetic complications in spite of being type 1 for over 50 years. And a number of those years were navigated without the availability of good tools. I still remember, not so fondly, the yellow tape that you peed on to see if it would turn green.

My aha moment came in the early 70’s when I made a call to Richard Bernstein, an engineer with a serious diabetic problem. As many of you know, he decided to go to medical school so he could talk to doctors about measuring blood sugar. When I got off the phone, I knew that my treatment of diabetes would never be the same again. After obtaining my first BS meter, I quickly became the “Eyetone Evangelist!” A fellow co-worker brought his son to see me and I got him started with testing his blood sugar.

I worked for a large chemical company and had access to doctors at a number of plant sites. So I did numerous demos of my “new-fangled” meter. Don’t know if that helped, but I did everything I could to spread the word.

In retirement, I’ve slowed down a bit — I no longer do the part-time wedding photography that I did for 30 years. But I have enough other activities to keep me busy. A couple of years ago, I tore out the entire kitchen in our 60’s home right down to the studs. I did let the pro’s do the new installation however. And I’m currently doing the same in one of our bathrooms. And I’m very active in our local barbershop chapter, singing with both the chorus and a quartet. I’m also Chapter President. My wife directs a ladies chorus that sings at retirement homes. I serve as an unpaid technical consultant in preparing learning CD’s for the members.

A couple of months ago, I started on a low-carb diet, although not at the ketogenic level. Actually, I tried this years ago when I read Dr. Bernstein’s book. But his food selections back then were pretty limited. I’m loving searching the internet for recipes that are much more tasty! I’ve also taken up cooking as a more serious endeavor, although I’m unlikely to challenge the world’s great chefs.

It’s too early to claim success with the new eating program, but I have lost about 20 pounds since I started and the A1c is almost a full point lower than when I started. Life is good!


@DiabetesOldie, I enjoyed reading your post. You are obviously doing something that works very well for you. Keep up the good work!

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I retired early at 60 after working in the medical device regulatory field for 35 years. I enjoyed the career and its challengings but found when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 50 the management or control while working became too much. I travelled for work and attended sensitive meetings; all with my pump, CGM, uploader to iPhone gadgets going off. It just wasn’t worth all the pre-planning.

It’s been almost two years since retiring and I’m more relaxed, enjoying my grandchildren and garden but have started to miss the “work” atmosphere. I’m seeing a doctor for insomnia now. I’ve had this for over 6 months. Not every night, but some nights I don’t get to sleep till 4:30am. I’ve tried over the counter PM. Then my primary DR gave me xanax - which I stopped. Now I went to a sleep clinic, got tested and have mild sleep apnea. Doctor said it’s common with diabetics. I’m tired of hearing that! Maybe if I lose 15 lbs it will go away?! Anyways, that doesn’t help me get to sleep. This disease sucks.

Hello @CH_BOS, thanks for your reply. I easily identify with your post. I was also bored soon after retirement, so I worked part-time for a few years. I have started some hobbies, working on my house, working out at a gym, and taking long walks. All of that helps!

glad to see your working out . a lot of people stop when they get older. I stopped in my 30’s when I started not
getting as good results . but started again its not as much fun when older but it still help’s.

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I’m looking at tennis clubs. Hope to be hitting with friends soon.

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Wow what great stories!

Mine is much less eventful. I have only had diabetes for 9years, and I joined here shortly after that, but when everything switched over I lost all of my posts. I love how I learn so much from others here.

I retired in 2015 after being a police officer for 25yrs. The last 7yrs I worked with diabetes and it was an experience. My gear bag always had bottles of OJ in the event I had a problem. I usually rode alone, however if I rode with a partner, we had a conversation early on about me testing my bg throughout the day. I often dealt with crazy looks from people when I tested in public, and educated people as I was learning myself. I was very disciplined at work.

I’m 53, and have some permanent injuries from work, however I love being outside and need physical activity. If I can’t get to the gym, I will do some hiking, ride my bike, or walk with friends. Of course, if it’s one of those low bg days, I’m not doing any of that. There is always something to do in the house… cleaning, laundry, repairs, new projects… so I’m ok when I have to stay inside.

The biggest difference is, when I was working my day was very regimented. I was up by a certain time, eating at a certain time, and then asleep at a certain time. Without a regular work schedule, all of that is out the window. I no longer get up before dawn, am not really on a schedule, and do not really have a bedtime. That’s my biggest challenge with diabetes now.


wow p.o. for 25 years bet that was quit an experience . i’m 60 without family so well try to so well try to work
as long as possible . been off work due to injury going on 3 months now . so I know full retirement not for me.
thanks for your service.


Hey Richard - I bet we could get a bunch of NYers to help you pack up if you change your mind and want to head to Atlanta!! I’m in!

I quit working a few years ago (shortly after dx) but my husband works full time. We have been planning to retire when he is 59 for years. In order for us to stay in the US when we retire, we will need the ACA to remain in effect. We don’t have employer sponsored retirement health insurance like many others. So we plan to move out of the country to someplace where health insurance and care is more affordable and very good. Also where we can get permanent retirement visas (the equivalent of a green card), which limits our options too. We have a few places in mind…

Since I was dx at age 49, hopefully complications will hold off in our early retirement. We have a lot to do and see!

When we figure out where we are going and settle in, I’ll be sure to invite everyone to visit. It will be someplace fun!! I think I will miss Americans, Hellman’s/Best Foods and Skippy. :slight_smile:

I’m looking forward to retirement! Once we move somewhere that is more affordable, I’m getting a horse like how I grew up! Can’t wait.