How Knowledge Supports Healthier Aging

Research indicates that gaining knowledge supports healthier aging and predicts mid-life biological aging. (1) Middle age is the time that many individuals are diagnosed with health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. 

A lack of health literacy is associated not just with premature death, but also with a range of health conditions, beginning with obesity and metabolic syndrome in the first half of the life course, followed by type 2 diabetes and heart disease in later life, and dementia in old age. (2)

My book, The Caregiving Trap: Solutions for Life’s Unexpected Changes has an entire chapter titled “Removing the Rose-Colored Glasses” that tells the tale of chronic disease and its effect on old age.

Learning About Health Prevention is Essential

If you want to become dependent on others in old age and need care, it’s simple–ignore your health. The problem is that unless you have access to people who are knowledgeable about health prevention no one tells you this until it’s too late.

Life poses complications that result in chronic disease. You become a caregiver for a loved one and neglect taking care of your health. Caregivers experience greater health declines than the persons for whom they care.

Chronic disease is prevalent in society today. We’d rather take a pill than exercise or change our diet. We’re a society that feeds our immediate desires at the expense of creating long-term issues like spending money today on electronics and automobiles and then not having sufficient funds in retirement to pay for health care.

Chronic Disease Results in Accelerated Aging

A lack of healthcare education and access is a serious problem in the United States and worldwide. Chronic disease results in accelerated aging.

How many of you know people who look much older than their actual age? My friends tell me that raising children has a similar effect. Being a caregiver of any type increases the likelihood of chronic disease and early disability.

When Being Sick is Shocking

When we meet, caregivers tell me, “I’ve never been sick in my life,” or “I’m never sick,” as if the current experience of not feeling well because of caregiving responsibilities is a shock or surprise. These statements of denial are the first in a long sequence of excuses by caregivers for not taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions to ignore health concerns.

“I’m never sick,” is a reality check that the rapid recovery and ability to rebound back quickly from health issues occurring in our youth is a reality of the past. Caregivers make excuses not to care for themselves. “I’m too busy.” “I can’t leave mom or dad alone.” It’s easier to blame someone else for poor health rather than change habits to care for health. 

A first instance of becoming sick is a warning sign that all bodies are vulnerable to illness. And once a chronic disease like heart disease is diagnosed, the likelihood of being diagnosed with another chronic disease increases.

Don’t Delay in Gaining Knowledge to Support Healthier Aging

If you want to change the projection of your health in old age, the time is now. Don’t delay.

Don’t believe that taking a pill will solve your problems. Ask your doctor what you might do to change your health.

Read books. Research health articles. Stop the continuous grazing, give up sodas and potato chips. Make 30 minutes a day to exercise rather than sitting in front of the television. It’s time to be kind to yourself and to your family or those who will be your future caregivers.

©2017, 2022 Pamela D. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

1 Schaefer, et. al. Early-Life Intelligence Predicts Midlife Biological Aging. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci, 2016, Vol 71, No. 6 968-977 doi:10:1093/geronb/gvb035

2 Arden, et al. Does A Fitness Factor Contribute to the Association Between Intelligence and Health Outcomes? Evidence from Medical Abnormality Counts Among 3654 US Veterans. Intelligence, 37, 581-591. Doi: 10:1016/j.intell.2009.03.008.

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