We sit on the couch and ponder the idea of taking a walk, but don’t get up and do so. We remember our doctor telling us to make a follow-up appointment, but keep forgetting to call. We realize our pants are tighter than before, but can’t resist another chocolate chip cookie.
We’d all like to live long and healthy lives, but each day we make small choices that will affect our health negatively in the years ahead.
Almost half of Americans 65 and older have two or more chronic diseases. Those aged 65 to 69 use 14 prescription drugs a year; those aged 80 to 84 rely on 18.
We may live long lives, but for many of us, those lives aren’t healthy. Too many of us accept chronic diseases — all caused to some degree by less than healthful lifestyles — as simply the burdens of age.
By understanding our health-related motivations, we gain insights into barriers that keep us from enjoying better health as we age. That’s where our questionnaire—find the link and pass code to take it below—comes in.
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Understanding why we make the choices we do could help us become more proactive in disease prevention and management. While preventing a chronic disease is preferable to treating it after the fact, any behavior that improves health is worthwhile.
Remove Barriers, Make Changes
Why aren’t we motivated to make better decisions everyday so we can reduce the risk of chronic disease?
As researchers, we wanted to understand the motivations that affect our health-related choices. Our company specializes in studying and quantifying motivations, and we’re highly experienced in this approach.
Twenty years ago, we began surveying people 40 and older in the U.S. population. They're more prone to suffer from chronic diseases than younger people, part of why this population is responsible for 72 percent of all U.S. health-related expenditures.
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To date, we’ve interviewed 20,000 people and have discovered seven distinct health dimensions. They are: healthy lifestyle, getting a checkup, trust in doctors, self-determination, seeks health-related information, able to understand health information and concern over cost.
These motivational dimensions are captured in the Morgan-Levy Health Cube, an e-health system, and described in our third book on our research, Health Motivations: 7 Dimensions That Shape America’s Health.
Linking Attitudes to Health Behaviors
We also collect a vast amount of data about behaviors and demographics. We cover subjects from exercise to preventive tests, number of hospital visits to diagnoses for scores of diseases. We look at behavior and the dimensions we identified and we repeatedly see relationships between the two in our research.
The Morgan-Levy Health Cube measures attitudes, not actual abilities. For example, a high score on "able to understand health information," one of our seven dimensions, does not prove the ability to understand what a doctor or pharmacist says. It reports a belief that one can understand health information.
A low score on a dimension is not necessarily bad — or good. For example, people who place an extremely high level of trust in their doctor may be unwilling to take any responsibility for their health. They may believe their doctor will cure them of their ills.
On the other hand, those extremely low on this dimension may discount everything their doctor tells them and thus actually harm their health.
Answer the Questionnaire
Knowing how important health motivations are to our overall wellbeing, you may want to understand your own health motivations.
You can complete the Morgan-Levy Health Cube at www.MLHealthCube.com and enter the code NextAvenue. It takes about eight minutes to finish our confidential questionnaire. Not only will you find out how you rank on our seven dimensions compared to the U.S. population 40 and older, you’ll also immediately receive a report explaining your scores and suggesting next steps.
Whatever your ranking today on the Morgan-Levy Health Cube, it is important to remember that health-related behaviors can change.
People may decide to change their behaviors on their own or because they are prompted by an outside influence. We’ve all seen people who have previously made unhealthful choices take positive action to improve their health. For example, the birth of a new grandchild may provide motivation to exercise, eat a heart-healthy diet and lower stress levels.
For many of us, the motivation to achieve good health lies within us.
Determining your own health motivations by taking the Morgan-Levy Health Cube is a step toward achieving your health potential.