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Business of Health Care: Elderly in Good Health

Michael Hagerty

A common myth about aging is that older adults are burdened by illness and feel lousy much of the time. In fact, the opposite is usually true. Most seniors report feeling distinctly positive about their health. When asked in a federal survey to rate their overall health, 82% of adults ages 65 to 74 described it as excellent, very good or good. By contrast, only 18% described their health as fair or poor. For many, good health means more than the lack of illness or disability.

The United States of Aging Survey reports 60 percent of seniors expect their health to stay the same in next five to 10 years. That seems unrealistic — what some scientists call “optimism bias” — but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a rosy outlook about the future.

The components of health that seniors tend to value are vitality, emotional well-being, positive social relationships, remaining active and satisfaction with life. Meanwhile, poor physical functioning plays a less important role.

Determining the shape people are in is easier than you might think. It’s called “subjective age.” When scientists ask: “How old do you feel, most of the time?” the answer tends to reflect the state of both physical and mental health.

Scientists find that people who feel younger than their chronological age are typically healthier and more psychologically resilient than those who feel older. They perform better on memory tasks and are at lower risk of cognitive decline.

In other words, there’s scientific evidence behind the old saying that you’re only as old as you feel.

Kateleigh joined KWBU in January 2019. She is an Oklahoma native that is making the move to Waco after working as an All Things Considered host and producer at affiliate KOSU Radio in Oklahoma City. She is a former NPR Next Generation Radio Fellow, a Society of Professional Journalists award winner, an Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame recipient for ‘Outstanding Promise in Journalism’ and the Oklahoma Collegiate Media Association’s 2017 recipient for ‘College Newspaper Journalist of the Year.’ After finishing up her journalism degree early she decided to use her first year out of college to make the transition from print media to public radio. She is very excited to have joined KWBU and she is looking forward to all the opportunities it will bring - including providing quality journalism to all Texans.
Glenn Robinson has been the President of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Hillcrest since September 2007. He previously held several CEO positions at hospitals in Texas, Oregon, and South Carolina. A Georgia native and graduate of the University of Alabama, Glenn completed graduate school at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.