Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Rising Health Costs Prompt Women to Neglect Health

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new survey released today by the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) highlights another troubling aspect of the current financial crisis: many women have failed to seek health care for themselves or their families to save money. Findings also indicate that many women say their health has gotten worse over the past five years and that the primary cause women cite for this decline is stress. In addition, while the vast majority of women are emotionally prepared to grow older, the majority do not feel financially prepared.

"Today's financial crisis and increasing health costs are clearly impacting women's decisions around health care, and their physical and emotional well-being," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of NWHRC. "It's hard to stay calm and relaxed given our hectic lives -- even in the best of times. But women need to understand that skimping on health care to save them money may cost them more in the long run. They also need to learn how to better manage their stress, both about their health and their finances."

Conducted by Harris Interactive, the fourth annual, national Women T.A.L.K. survey explored issues related to women's health specifically around women's attitudes about health care costs as well as healthy aging.

Stress Takes a Toll on Women's Physical and Emotional Health

A significant number of women report making sacrifices in order to reduce their expenditures on health care and that their health is declining.

-- Nearly half of women (45%) have failed to seek medical care in the
past year because the cost was too high. This includes skipping
doctor's visits, recommended medical procedures and medication for
themselves or their families.
-- Hispanic women were most likely to have skipped health care in the
past year (58%) versus white (43%) or African American (42%)
women.
-- In addition, more than 40% of women report their health has declined
over the past five years and the most common reasons given for this
were stress and weight gain.


"Long-term stress and weight gain can significantly increase women's risk for other health problems," said Battaglino Cahill. "Women need help in managing stress and part of that equation is good nutrition and regular exercise. There are many simple, no-cost steps they can take to manage stress including eating better, exercising, deep breathing, meditation and organizing and prioritizing activities."

As part of their ongoing commitment to women's health and wellness, NWHRC has created an online wellness center featuring tips and advice that address some of the key issues revealed in the survey, www.healthywomen.org/wellness.

Women are at Ease with Aging

The survey also sought to understand women's attitudes towards aging, their perceptions about aging healthfully, and the steps they are taking to ensure their health as they grow older. An encouraging outcome of the survey is that women tend to have positive feelings toward aging and more commonly view it as an adventure and an opportunity versus a struggle or something to be depressed about. They tend to be inspired by others who also have positive attitudes and stay active as they grow older.

-- Tina Turner is the celebrity over the age of 50 that women admire
most. She was selected by twice the margin of their next top choices -
Sophia Loren and Diane Keaton.
-- These celebrities inspired them in terms of overall health most
commonly because the celebrity has remained active as she's grown
older (66%), stays physically fit and active (65%) and has a positive
attitude toward aging (58%).


Women personally engage in a variety of activities to feel good about their physical health as they age. They are most likely to say that not smoking is the most important one (26%), followed by exercising regularly (19%), visiting the doctor annually for a physical (18%), and maintaining a healthy diet (14%).

Women also undertake a variety of activities to feel good about themselves in terms of personal appearance as they age.

-- The activities women rate as most important in this area are to
maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly (each cited by 21% of
women).
-- The next most common actions taken are to wear flattering clothing
(15%) and use moisturizer (14%).


When it comes to healthy aging, financial issues are also at the forefront of women's minds.

While eight in ten women feel prepared or very prepared to grow older in terms of emotional health, and close to two-thirds feel prepared in terms of knowledge of aging issues, physical health and social support, just 42% of women feel prepared to grow older in terms of financial security.

-- When asked what other information women need to feel more prepared for
growing older, the top answer was financial information, cited by 51%
of women.
-- Other common responses include retirement information (46%), medical
information (42%) and information about health insurance options
(41%).

To visit the online wellness center, go to the National Women's Health Resource Center's Web site at www.healthywomen.org/wellness. Or for further highlights of the annual Women T.A.L.K. survey visit the NWHRC's online newsroom at www.healthywomen.org/newsroom.

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