Aging Satisfaction Influences Preventive Health Behavior

October 22, 2014
Krystle Vermes

Adults aged 50 years or older who feel comfortable about aging are more likely to seek preventive health care services.

Adults aged 50 years or older who feel comfortable about aging are more likely to seek preventive health care services, according to the results of a University of Michigan study published in the most recent edition of Preventive Medicine.

Members of the older population are oftentimes hesitant to visit health care professionals because they believe their deteriorating mental and physical conditions represent old age, noted lead study author Eric S. Kim, MS, a doctoral student in clinical psychology. In turn, some older adults believe that lifestyle changes will not make a difference, making them less likely to seek preventative care.

However, Kim said different mindsets influence different health trajectories, which explains why some older adults witness a decline in their health, while others maintain their health or become healthier as they age.

In the study, 6177 individuals from a national panel of American adults aged 50 years or older were surveyed about their use of preventative health services. Based on the results, the researchers concluded that those who reported greater satisfaction with aging were more likely to obtain cholesterol screening and receive colonoscopies. Furthermore, women who were satisfied with aging were more likely to receive pap smears or mammograms, while their male counterparts were more inclined to undergo prostate exams.

“Given the societal and economic importance of increasing the use of preventive health services in old age, it is important to expand the understanding of how personal perceptions of aging might impact preventive health care behaviors in this age group,” the study authors wrote.