Thursday, December 15, 2011
A personal story that hits close to home.
I hear all the time about how expensive it is to eat properly, find time to exercise and manage stress in people's lives. I get it guys, its hard to do! I'm with you and I understand that.
A family member of mine recently went to the doctor and found out that they had a heart condition. I want to keep this private so I won't mention any names or specific illnesses.
The doctor prescribed a specific medication for the problem as is very common. This may be a drug this family member will have to take for the rest of his / her life. The price of the drug is $75 per month. $75 per month adds up. Keep in mind that the general trend for the population is to begin adding more expensive drugs to their daily list over time. This adds up to a bigger hit on your wallet as time goes on and your health declines.
The amount of money spent on pharmaceutical drug prescriptions, surgeries, hospital stays, insurance plans and doctor visits is staggering. Don't believe me? Ask anyone you know over the age of 65 how many drugs that they take on a daily basis. Its very common for this demographic to plan their entire lives around doctor visits. I've known many people who have lost their entire life's savings on prescription drugs, hospital stays and eventually nursing homes and long term care facilities.
The problem here is that the majority of our health problems are preventable. Things like Heart Disease, Cancer, Stroke, COPD and Diabetes have a very strong correlation to your lifestyle choices. Keep in mind that I just rattled off 5 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the US. Disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis have a very strong genetic component, but recently we are starting to realize that there may be some environmental triggers at play in causing these disorders.
Its very possible to age gracefully but it requires your action from a young age. These problems tend to creep up on people and when they occur, they often can't be reversed. Take Parkinson's Disease for example. Patients don't begin showing symptoms of the disease until 80% of the portion in their brain responsible for movement is destroyed. By the time they have been diagnosed they are already missing 80% of that part (Substantia Nigra) of their brain! Parkinson's may be a bad example because we truly don't know the real cause of this disorder. However, diseases like Diabetes and Heart Disease follow a very common trend caused by poor lifestyle habits that are truly preventable. That's a sad reality.
One thing I've noticed is that people tend to take their health for granted. I've been guilty of this many times. Youthful people who currently have their health are notorious for this. Here are some of my favorites: I'll put off exercising until things lessen up at work. I don't have time to make lunch so I'll grab something from the vending machine instead. Work is really piling up, I'm not going to be getting any sleep the next few weeks. For whatever reason, humans tend to put their health last on their list of priorities.
Working in healthcare exposes you to people who don't have their health. You get exposed to people who would do anything to have their health back. You see people who can't walk across the room because they get so short of breath. The disorder is COPD and it is the 4th leading cause of death in the US. What causes it? Smoking. You see patients who routinely come into the hospital to have portions of their limbs amputated because they lack good blood supply to their feet. The disorder is Diabetes, and I'm sure you all know that poor diet applies here. Diabetes is also the 7th leading cause of death in 2009.
I implore everyone to realize the significance of eating properly, exercising regularly and managing your lifestyle beginning today. Spending the money on better foods and eating properly today will cost a fraction of what those prescription drugs and hospital bills will be in the future. Worse even will be the cost of a nursing home where the cost might not even be coming out of your pocket. Unless you've accumulated a small fortune in your life time, the burden may fall on your children and family.
What's even worse is that you lose your quality of life when your health declines. Not only will your pocketbook be lighter, but you might not be able to enjoy the same things in life that used to give you pleasure.
It's time for a change. Let's rework our priorities. The bottom line is that WE have control over our health. If you enjoy your life and have others in your life that love you, it would be wise to start investing in your personal wellness. It is MORE EXPENSIVE to eat poorly now and forgo a healthy lifestyle because it will catch up to you later.