Don't Let An Osteoporosis Diagnosis Make You Feel Old - Save Our Bones

An osteoporosis diagnosis poses a hidden danger: it can make you feel old.

Any diagnosis can be met with negative feelings– fear, anxiety, disappointment, anger– but age-related conditions may also shift your perception of your age and the effects of aging. That shift can have serious consequences for your health and lifespan, as explained in a recently published study.

Today, we’ll explore research on the health impacts of feeling old and having a negative perception of aging. Then you’ll learn how to reshape your feelings about aging to stay youthful, positive, and healthy.

An Avoidable Danger Of Diagnosis

An osteoporosis diagnosis can elicit a variety of feelings and responses, potentially changing the way we think about ourselves.

That potential change in self-perception poses a health risk. Often, a diagnosis of osteoporosis or other age-related condition can make a person feel old.

Studies have found that people who report “feeling old” or who hold negative associations with aging experience poorer health outcomes compared to those with more positive associations and higher satisfaction with aging.1

Synopsis

An age-related diagnosis might make you feel old. This change in self-perception could pose a risk. Studies have found that people who feel old and hold negative associations with aging have poorer health outcomes than people who don't.

Study Shows Link Between Perception Of Aging And Health Outcomes

A 2022 study published in the journal JAMA found that participants who reported higher satisfaction with aging experienced improved subsequent health and well-being.

The study used data from the Health and Retirement Study, which included 13,752 adults older than 50 years in the United States. The study spanned four years, and over that time researchers tracked 35 indicators of physical behavior and psychosocial health and well-being.

In this passage from the study, the researchers describe the results.

“During the 4-year follow-up period, participants in the highest (vs lowest) quartile of aging satisfaction had improved physical health (eg, 43% reduced risk of mortality), better health behaviors (eg, 23% increased likelihood of frequent physical activity), and improved psychosocial well-being (eg, higher positive affect and lower loneliness), conditional on prebaseline aging satisfaction.”1

Participants with a more positive view of their aging process had better health outcomes, including a remarkable 43% lower risk of dying from any cause during the four years of the study.

Synopsis

The study followed 13,752 adults for four years, tracking 35 indicators of physical behavior and psychosocial health and well-being. Compared to participants with the lowest aging satisfaction, those with the most positive perception of aging had 43% reduced mortality risk, were 24% more likely to engage in frequent physical activity, and were more positive and less lonely.

How To Feel Youthful And Improve Your Aging Satisfaction

Our self-perception significantly influences our behaviors and our mental health, which in turn, affect our overall wellness and specific health outcomes, including bone health.

However, we can alter our thinking and behaviors to enhance our satisfaction with aging and countert the negative impact of any diagnosis or experience that might make us feel old. Here’s how:

  • Reject Negative Stereotypes About AgingNegative stereotypes of older people are so common that many don't realize they are accepting them. Depictions of older people as frail, sickly, fragile, forgetful, and dependent are common. Look out for these negative stereotypes, notice them, and reject them. Simply by recognizing a stereotype and reminding yourself that it's both false and damaging, you can work against the anti-aging bias that it might otherwise instill.
  • Express And Process Your Feelings – Negative feelings are a part of being human. It's normal to feel sad, angry, or negative when faced with a diagnosis, a failure, or a challenge to your self-perception. Ignoring or denying those feelings traps them inside, and prevents you from processing and releasing them. Find a way to express your feelings, especially negative feelings, so that you can identify where those feelings came from, what it's like to feel them, and how you can let go of them. Some people find journaling or visual art to be a therapeutic way to process negative feelings. Other people prefer to talk with a friend or a therapist to work through them. Find your outlet and apply it.
  • Embrace Change And Find The Opportunity – Change is constant and inevitable. Instead of fighting against the current, build a boat and take a ride. Once you've worked through the negative feelings that come around in any change in your life, start the work of considering what opportunities are embedded in this new situation. A diagnosis can offer a chance to take the time to build better habits that will improve every aspect of your life.
  • Build Community And Stay Social – Isolation magnifies negativity and increases loneliness. Plug into existing communities at your local gym, library, or community center. If you struggle to find an active social community to join, that's an opportunity to be a community builder. Host a book club; invite neighbors, friends, and colleagues to join you for a weekly walk; or start a board game night at a local cafe.
  • Stay Active To Stay YoungPhysical activity is essential for maintaining your health and feeling young. One of the most harmful misconceptions about aging is that it diminishes your ability or need to exercise. In truth, regular physical activity has enormous health benefits at every age. Don't be fooled into thinking that exercise past a certain age is dangerous. Appropriate and safe physical activities exist for everybody at every age. The Save Institute created SaveTrainer so that Savers can have around-the-clock access to workouts individually tailored to their ability level and needs. This online video workout platform includes every variety of exercise you could want, led by trained professionals, and presented in an easy-to-follow format that makes working out fun.
  • Don’t Forget The Basics – Maintaining health, youth, and independence requires all-around well-being. Eating a well-balanced diet, like the Save Institute's 80/20 pH-balanced diet, provides your body with everything it needs to stay strong and ready for action. Regular, quality sleep is also essential. Build a repeatable bedtime routine and prioritize getting good sleep.

Synopsis

To feel positive about aging, try these strategies: reject negative stereotypes about aging, express and process your negative feelings, find the opportunity in change, stay social and build community, stay active, eat well, and get quality sleep.

What This Means To You

Aging should be viewed as a process of change, not decline. The outcome of any change depends on how you handle it. Staying positive, active, and engaged will allow you to turn the challenges of aging into opportunities for growth and joy.

The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is full of strategies to help you accomplish that goal, all while improving your bone health. When you feel confident in the strength of your bones, you have the foundation you need to feel satisfied with aging. The ORP offers tools and techniques to help you grow your confidence and embrace your strength.

Keep giving yourself a future to look forward to, full of health and happiness!

References

1 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2788853

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