Preparing for healthy middle-aged aging: a qualitative study | BMC Public Health
In the present study, 11 women and 12 men were interviewed, the mean age was 50.43 ± 4.8, and the majority of the subjects (73.9%) were married (Table 1). Examples of middle-aged healthy aging programs have been categorized into four dimensions (Table 2).
Maintaining good health through middle age is an important factor in healthy aging. Undoubtedly, those who lead healthier lifestyles will be better able to cope with the health changes of aging. The Maintaining Health category has been divided into two subcategories: Promotes healthy habits of physical well-being, prioritize mental health, and Improves social connectedness.
Promotes healthy habits of physical well-being
From the perspective of the middle-aged people studied, promoting healthy habits of physical well-being was important for healthy aging. Prevention of deterioration in health in old age through physical activity, healthy eating, screening and regular health assessments, stopping or starting bad eating habits, stopping or starting smoking, controlling disease, weight control, and eye exams reported by participants. For example, many middle-aged people strive to eat healthily and talk about walking as a physical activity.
“I eat fruits and vegetables; The staple food has always been in my diet and continues to be. I shouldn’t eat greasy, sweet and salty things… I also have to walk a lot…” (45-year-old man).
However, mostly financial and time hurdles were observed in this area, so that some people hoped to improve their diet in old age because their work now influences their diet.
“Now we’re out and about working from morning to night, we have to eat what we can get…” (46-year-old man).
They were interested in health care for the importance of their examinations and check-ups, but they knew that this procedure is expensive: “I should go to the doctor right now. Although I have a general illness, I rarely go to the doctor. When you get sick you have to spend money, you have a cold, you have to spend money, well, if someone is not financially secure, of course that is not the case” (46-year-old woman).
Prioritize mental health
Encouraging mental health activities in middle age is important for maintaining good mental health in old age. The middle-aged people surveyed emphasized living happily, having a sense of peace in life, strengthening positive thinking, doing pleasant things, preventing depression, avoiding stress in life and anxiety in order to have a healthy age for their future .
“Aging life, I lead a healthy life, of course I don’t go back in time because grief overcomes me…. I avoid negative people…. I try to stay away from negative thoughts, negative people, and negative Places. To my consolation. I try to do things I enjoy, I listen to music, I have guests and I have a mountain” (50 year old female).
Participants from the lower class of society said they were not in a good psychological situation and blamed the society’s economic situation.
“The thought that it’s not good will ruin everything.” A future that doesn’t make you depressed… Most people aren’t depressed. A bad economy doesn’t allow us to be sane. It is not clear what will happen in the future…”. (45 years man).
Improving social connectedness
Social connection is essential throughout a person’s lifespan. In order to prevent the feeling of separation and loneliness in old age, one should think about expanding the circle of communication from middle age. This subcategory includes concepts such as family communication, group orientation, having a companion, having good friends, and the desire to go to a nursing home because of loneliness. A 55-year-old woman is trying to build better family relationships in the family and is also thinking about expanding her relationships:
“I don’t like being old, being alone… I’m trying to improve our relationship with my husband and kids, I don’t want to do anything to be alone; From now on I will start collecting those I lost like my friends and sisters. (55-year-old woman)”.
Financial perspective for the future
Financial perspective for the future, before the onset of old age, can meaningfully support well-being in old age. People’s perceived financial adequacy was included in two subcategories, namely achieving financial security and becoming a homeowner.
Create financial security
Financial security in middle age in this study included adequate savings, adequate pension rights, financial independence, adequate financial income, financial management of savings, investments, insurance, financial independence, and job security. Men spoke more about income generation and economic turmoil and the inability to save.
This concern was mainly seen among workers. These people lacked job stability and security, and financial preparedness for old age made no sense for this group as they struggled to make a living. A 46-year-old worker says: “It’s not possible to save. You are only allowed to support yourself… I have no savings… Saving in our country! Well, inflation is unpredictable and uncontrollable.”
Financial independence was more important for women. A 46-year-old woman says: “Before I got old I loved having money and I used to buy a house and when I got tired I went and was by myself. It is better for a woman to be financially independent and not need her man.”
become a homeowner
The environment and the place where a person lives undoubtedly have a significant impact on his health. In this study, buying housing and owning an apartment of your own, an apartment in the right place, the inability to have an apartment, the thought of going to a nursing home due to a lack of housing, characteristics such as elevators and bathrooms were among the characteristics of Dwellings for the aging mentioned by the subjects. But some were unable to provide or buy housing for old age.
“Well I would like to have a house and everyone wants to own a house, I tried to buy it but it didn’t work… I guess I can’t rent a very small house at all anymore because of the expensive housing situation, finally one person can rent a very small house…” (45-year-old woman).
Outlook on Aging
What emerges from old age and its concept in the minds of middle-aged people will affect the quality of coping. The outlook on aging is divided into two subcategories: acceptance of the reality of aging and positive view of aging.
Accept the reality of aging
Avoiding the acceptance of aging can pose challenges for people in dealing with old age. This subcategory includes not accepting aging, being involved in other problems, current problems, observing diminished physical abilities, unplanned thinking, thinking with observing other people aging, talking to family and spouse about plans, learning and communicating with aging . Some people have accepted the reality of aging:
“It’s a part of life anyway. It’s inevitable. We get there whether we want to or not, whether we are prepared or not” (46 year old female).
Most middle-aged people try not to think about aging and the future. Some also wanted to think about it when they were old: “Now I prefer to think about the present than about the future. I’ll think about it when the time comes. It’s too early for me to think about it now…” (45 year old man).
Approach aging positively
A positive view of aging provides a platform to experience good and healthy aging. Positive views include: attaining perfection, the usefulness of children, having grandchildren, remaining useful capacity, experience, experience transmission period, accountability, and having enough time. Few spoke positively about aging. It is worth noting that people with a positive attitude were men.
“Every part of a person’s life is somehow sweet. We’re actually getting older, losing some of the abilities, but we can take advantage of our aging. In old age your children get married, you have grandchildren…they are kind of beautiful” (49 year old male).
But in this study, negative attitudes such as length of disability, fear of loneliness, fear of dependency, child marriage and separation, breakdown of social relationships were observed more. Middle-aged women in the study spoke about their negative feelings about aging. One of the biggest negative attitudes towards aging has been the fear of being dependent on others.
“I think aging is so scary…I don’t want to be old and disabled or need someone…” (46-year-old female).
Plan usage time productively
How to use time in old age can be a challenge. Daily timing and scheduling in old age can have a positive impact on health. Planning for productive use time has been included in two sub-categories of expanding volunteer activities and anticipating aging leisure time.
Spending free time in old age to help others or to improve society is good for others and for the individual. A middle aged volunteer program to spend useful time in old age will be effective for healthy aging. This section includes activities such as membership in social networks, social centers, membership in charities, support for nursing homes, guardianship of orphans and some of the barriers perceived voluntarily.
Few of the participants thought they would have more free time as they got older and could volunteer. Among them, a man with higher education explains: “One of the most important issues that I have considered, which will help the community for money and not for mobility, is the creation of NGOs to help animals, homeless animals like dogs, cats and other animals and birds oppressed or sick to reach them?
Perspective for aging leisure
People their age will have more free time. Predicting the necessary arrangements for this period of life will help improve the quality of life for the better and healthier. Activities such as travelling, music, reading, enjoying nature, having fun with animals, having a garden, living in a quiet environment and spending more time with family and friends are mentioned. Few middle-aged people thought of side programs to spend time aging. The following are examples of people who have made plans and thoughts about it.
“I try not to be like the others; they grow old, sit in a corner and wait for death; I try not to be like that and I like to keep myself busy doing my daughter’s and son’s work” (45-year-old male).