A study was conducted several years ago on understanding older adults’ expectations regarding aging and how these expectations influence healthcare-seeking behavior. The question was raised, if this population felt a general negativity towards the aging process could this help physicians identify situations in which older adults needlessly miss the opportunity to experience this model of successful aging; success being measured by the maintenance of high cognitive and physical function.
The study about aging found that at least 50% of participants felt that it was an expected part of aging to become depressed, to become more dependent on others, to have decreased ability to have sex, to have more aches and pains, to have trouble sleeping, to have less energy, to have less control of bodily functions, and to become less attractive. In addition, older adults with low expectations regarding were less likely to believe it important to seek healthcare for age-associated conditions. These and many other modifiable age-associated conditions remain underdiagnosed and undertreated. While the study does not confirm that having low expectations regarding aging directly contributes to older adults missing out on care for modifiable conditions, the information carried, and may still carry important implications for clinicians and health policy makers. There may be a real benefit and important opportunity to intervene in the aging process by increasing expectations regarding aging in order to improve the health of older adults.
This study caught our attention for 2 reasons; 1, does this sentiment stem from the country you live in and 2, did this feeling of helplessness and security only happen upon the US 50 years ago when that very thing “security” was created for the older generation? Additionally it seems that said “security” seems to be dwindling, will the next generation of seniors be more apt to fend for themselves and seek medical help when necessary? Will the idea that with age comes great wisdom and right shine through? Will the understanding that the general wearing out process will happen but we mustn’t be down about it influence the health of the aging population? While there is no way to know any of this to be true, we have seen a rise in hip and knee replacements as well as the use of hospitals in recent years. There is a lot more information needed to understand the full picture here, but definitely some interesting food for thought.
– Georgetown Home Care