Health Risks of a Rigid Mind


Health risks exist for aging adults who have rigid minds. Those who refuse to consider recommendations by physicians and who are viewed as “difficult patients” may not receive good care. Having a rigid mind makes it difficult for healthcare practitioners and others to want to be helpful. Aging adults instead are viewed as non-compliant. 

Being open-minded to avoid having a rigid mind to avoid health risks may be a new behavior for aging adults. Not many people enjoy change that is not self-initiated.  My brother’s twice-yearly visits to my parent’s home resulted in deep cleaning and rearranging of furniture.  The rearranging always resulted in temporary distress for my parents who were very appreciative of the cleaning under furniture they could no longer move about and the flipping of heavy mattresses.

Stuck in a Rut? 

How many of us experience similar discomfort or irritation when someone else moves or touches our stuff when we are presented with a significant life change. It may be worse when we are asked to consider changing a “we’ve always done it this way” or a “stuck in the old way” behavior? It is easy to become stuck in a rut and not notice the health risks of having a rigid mind. 

How many of us when approaching situations, rather than responding in our usual manner, stop to think about how we might look at the situation differently before we respond?  It’s easy to become stuck in our habits and in our ruts, not even realizing that we are stuck until some outside person looking in makes a comment or an unexpected event results in mandatory change that we resist. Having a rigid mind can result in poor care from the healthcare system because of being viewed as being a difficult patient. 

Change is Part of Life – Having a Rigid Mind is Risky

Change is part of life as we age and our health changes.  My 20’s, 30’s and 40’s were a breeze filled with good health and abundant energy.  In my 50’s body parts have started to become weak due to lack of use and maintaining good health through exercise and good nutrition is a daily part of my life.

While the idea of resisting failing health by being proactive is a positive action, resisting recommendations by medical providers relative to nutrition, exercise, and health, because we have a rigid mind, can be disastrous to our health and to our enjoyment of life. Refusing care can be a risk to good health and receiving better than average healthcare. 

The Body Quickly Becomes Weak Without Use

If you are a person needing proof of how easily the body changes without notice, try the following exercise.  You’ll need a watch with a second hand or the ability to stand in front of a clock with a second hand so you can time this activity. 

Ready?  1) Stand, 2) lift one leg off the floor, 3) bend the leg you lifted off the floor so that your foot is at a 45-degree angle behind you and even with the level of your knee.  How long are you able to maintain this position without grabbing furniture for support or falling to the right or left?

If the results of performing this exercise surprised you, this is an indication of how quickly and easily your health and physical abilities decline without notice.  The “if you don’t use it you’ll lose it” saying becomes truer with age.  Americans have become a society who prefers to sit in front of the television rather than going out for a walk. Sedentary behavior has become the norm and is at epidemic proportions.

For older adults absence of physical activity is tragic and results in poor balance, frequent falls, broken hips, and social isolation.  Minds benefit from an activity like reading, puzzles and other mental stimulation in addition to the activity of socializing with others.

Remaining Healthy Requires a Flexible Mind and Body

Remaining healthy is a total package of taking care of yourself physically and mentally.  Individuals who had little interest in hobbies during their work life often find themselves experiencing boredom after retirement.  Others who might not have attended to their health find health worsening and do nothing but complain about all the activities in which they can no longer participate.  Complaining may help you feel better but it will not solve the issues or problems you are experiencing. 

Solutions require action. Being open-minded to consider suggestions and recommendations is the answer to avoiding a rigid mind that prevents better than average healthcare. 

There are also circumstances where persons experiencing health issues believe they have exhausted all options.  This may or may not be true depending on the level of expertise in navigating healthcare.   If you find yourself in this position, being open to the support from a caregiving expert  holds benefits.

A flexible, open and questioning mind offers significant benefits to your health and overall well being. Rigid minds more often result in weak bodies and poor health.  It is never too late to learn a new skill, to begin a new hobby or to think differently about your health. 

I know a woman who at 65 started a yearly routine of climbing the Grand Canyon.  Today she’s 104 in good health and remains in contact with friends who are 10-20 years her junior.  Aging is a number that does not always indicate poor health if you are able to maintain a flexible mind.

© 2012, 2013, 2019  Pamela D. Wilson.  All Rights Reserved.

Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, is a national caregiving thought leader, caregiving expert, advocate, and speaker who solves caregiving problems. Online support and programs are offered to caregivers seeking support and advice for the care of aging parents, spouses, and other family members. Pamela supports adults, age 50+, with positive aging advice and online programs to advance health literacy and self-advocacy. Collaboration with professionals in the specialty areas of estate planning, elder law, and probate, financial planning, and healthcare raises awareness of and sensitivity to stressful family caregiving and healthcare issues.


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