Healthy Living

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number: Seniors Comfortable With Aging More Likely To Seek Preventive Health Care Services

Senior citizens
Older adults over 50 who are satisfied with aging are more likely to seek health screenings and stay fit and happy. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

"Age ain't nothing but a number," crooned Aaliyah in her song, and if you go with this adage and are comfortable with your old age, then you are much better off, says a new study. University of Michigan researchers found that adults over 50 who were reconciled with aging were more proactive in getting preventive health care services. 

The human body is continuously changing as it ages. Most seniors associate aging with reduced stamina, aches, pains, and even debilitating conditions, like amnesia or cancers. But being open about it and seeking medical help ensures a comfortable old age. 

Eric Kim, a U-M doctoral student in clinical psychology and lead author of the study, explained in a press release that the older population is more inclined to not seek medical attention if they feel that the physical and mental declines typify old age. If they believe that lifestyle changes will not make any improvements to their current state, then they are less likely to visit the doctor for preventive care. This, Kim says, is not a healthy mindset and will hurt them in the long run.

Studies have shown that not all age similarly. Some show rapid decline in health, some maintain, while some others get stronger and healthier as they age. Their physical state is all a function of their mental thought process, Kim says.

He found that people comfortable with their aging, who felt useful and had a sense of purpose, more frequently sought health screenings. Such people were more proactive when it came to maintaining their existing health. Regular exercise, proper diet, and regular health checks are all part of their regime.

The 6,177 people who participated in the study were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50. Each respondent answered questions about use of preventive health services over time.

Participants who reported higher satisfaction with aging were more likely to obtain a cholesterol test and colonoscopy over time. For women, they received a mammogram/X-ray or pap smear with greater frequency.

Men made medical appointments more often to get a prostate exam, the study showed. These associations remained even after adjusting for potential confounding factors.

Indeed, several studies have shown that happiness comes with age, and people over 50 are more content. But this happiness will come if there is an absence of diseases, which in turn depends on each person’s view on aging.

Source: Kim ES, Moored KD, Giasson HL, Smith J. Satisfaction with Aging and Use of Preventive Health Services. Preventive Medicine. 2014.

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