Facing a serious health issue can be daunting to go through alone, although new UK research has found one in five people over the age of 50 keep their serious health issues a secret.
The study, conducted by hearing aid manufacturer Signia in the United Kingdom, found people are keeping health issues, such as hearing loss, heart disease, mental health and arthritis, from their family and friends. Worryingly, 10 per cent of people surveyed admitted to keeping their health diagnosis a secret from loved ones for more than a year.
Six out of 10 people surveyed said they didn’t tell anyone because they didn’t want to worry their nearest and dearest, while 29 per cent said they were too embarrassed to share details of their health condition with other people.
“As we get older it is natural for our health to become more fragile, and it’s a lucky few who make it into old age without acquiring something to worry about,” Maarten Barmentlo from Signia said in a statement. “What’s important to remember is a problem shared is a problem halved, and sometimes carrying the worries of a health issue can do more harm than good.”
While 20 per cent of people surveyed keep their health problems a secret from loved ones, two thirds were happy to discuss their health issues for research purposes.
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The findings also revealed that when people do decide to talk about their health problems, 58 per cent were most likely to confide in a partner, followed by their best friend. Meanwhile, 30 per cent have had someone close to them disclose a personal health concern. It also found 11 per cent of people had discovered their own partner keeping a health condition secret from them.
The results of the survey gained attention on grandparenting forum Gransnet, where over-60s revealed why they chose to share or hide their health information from their loved ones.
One comment read: “I share everything with mine, I feel that’s what families are for, supporting each other.”
Another person said they only share the details they want to share – even if that means leaving out important information. “Knowing I’ve been unwell, my family have been asking questions,” they wrote. “I have told them the minimum. Don’t mind saying things like ‘no anaemia, no thyroid problems’. Still awaiting last test results so will tell them a version that suits me.”
A third person said they kept secrets, but would be upset if their loved ones were keeping secrets from them.
“I only tell my children any health issues on a need-to-know basis! Why worry them otherwise?” they wrote. “Mind you, I’d be annoyed if I found out THEY were hiding something!”