Warning: Get Smart and Live Longer

Low Intelligence (and Denial) Increases Chronic Disease and Early Disability

By Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG

Research indicates that intelligence predicts mid-life biological aging.1 Low intelligence is associated not just with premature death, but also with a range of health conditions, beginning with obesity and the 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

Do I have your attention?

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 the effect on old age. If you want to become dependent on others in old age and need care, it’s simple–ignore your health at a young age. You can also become a caregiver for a loved one and deny your own needs. Many 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.

Peers have created the Millennial generation who desire praise for failing, feel entitled, are narcissistic, change jobs at the drop of the hat, and depend on their parents to make decisions for them. If you don’t believe me watch this video by Millennial Expert, Simon Sinek. It’s no wonder that the future of healthcare and the financial stability of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are at risk.

We have a serious healthcare problem. 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. Caregiving results in chronic disease and early disability.

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. “I’m never sick,” is a reality check that the rapid recovery and ability to bound 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 and then to proliferate the idea of needing care.

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 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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