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Older Adults Satisfied With Aging More Likely to Get Preventive Health Care Services

First Posted: Oct 17, 2014 06:36 AM EDT

Seniors who are satisfied with aging are in fact more proactive in seeking preventive health care services, according to a new study.

Most often, older adults above the age of 50 fail to visit their doctors as they strongly believe that physical as well as mental decline represent old age. And, even changes made to lifestyle will not make any difference, due to which they are less likely to seek preventive care.

But, researchers at the University of Michigan claim this perception as false and also label it as an unhealthy mindset. They found that adults above the age of 50, who are very comfortable with the idea of aging, are in fact more proactive in getting the necessary preventive health care services.

According to lead author Eric Kim, doctoral student at U-M in clinical psychology, "studies show that older adults can go down several different trajectories of health as they age: some decline, some maintain and some even get healthier. Different mindsets influence which health trajectories people follow because mindsets influence health behaviors."

The older adults are more likely to seek health screening only if they are satisfied with their aging process, which again includes feeling useful and having high energy levels.

In this study, the researchers worked on the data of 6,177 participants that was retrieved from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults above the age of 50. Each participant answered questions that focused on the use of preventive health services over time.

The researchers observed that the participants who reported high satisfaction with aging were more likely to seek cholesterol test and also colonoscopy over time. Among women, they did a mammogram/X-ray or pap smear with greater frequency. Men made frequent medical appointments for prostate examining.

These associations continued to exist even after considering certain potential confounding factors.  However, the researchers noticed a region that did not improve irrespective of aging satisfaction i.e. receiving a flu shot.

The findings appear in Preventive Medicine.

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