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Aging Well

Why You're Taking Care of Yourself (or Not) As You're Aging

People over 50 who feel comfortable with aging are likelier than those who don’t to get preventive health care services, University of Michigan researchers have found.

Previous research has shown that older adults can take several different paths of health. Some decline, some stay the same, and some get healthier.

What path an adult takes is due to differing mindsets, according to the lead author of the latest study, Eric Kim, a U-M doctoral student in clinical psychology. Some older people don’t visit their doctor because they think that physical and mental decline are an inevitable part of aging, and that preventive care won’t make a difference.

But the study found that if people are satisfied with aging – meaning that they feel useful and having high energy – they seek health screenings.

In their research, the investigators looked at 6,177 participants from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of adults over 50. The study’s 6,177 participants were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50.

All were questioned about their use of health care screenings. After adjust for different factors involving each person, the investigators found that people who reported more satisfaction as they aged were likelier to get a cholesterol test or colonoscopy over time. Women got more frequent mammograms and pap smears, while men were likelier to get a prostate exam.

However, the two groups showed no difference in getting a flu shot.

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