I recently gave a talk to a group of people concerned about the rising cost of health care accompanied by an increasing need for it. This was a group of retirees, many of whom detailed less-than-heartwarming experiences within the current health care system. Many of them were also able to produce lists of dozens of medications they or their loved ones were currently taking. The medical term for this: polypharmacy - and it's rampant. If there is a reason to enter into the health care system, there's a pill for it. But this isn't an inevitable situation! Some things are beyond our control: our gender, our age, and the way that person was driving in front of you this morning. But there are many others that are squarely within our control.
Yes, we can do something - you can do something. Yes, you can change little things around how you live your life that can reduce your need for health care. Yes, little things can add up to big outcomes.
How to get started? One way is to analyze factors in five key areas of life: how you eat, how you move, how you sleep, how you medicate, and how you stress. A sample quiz to get the conversation flowing:
What I Eat
- I eat out more than I eat foods specially prepared by me or for me. T/F
- Cost of food is a concern for me. T/F
- There are good foods and there are bad foods. T/F
How I Move
- If I exercise at least three times a week, I am doing well. T/F
- If I exercise for at least 30 minutes each day, the rest of the day doesn't matter. T/F
- Gyms are not an option for me. T/F
My Sleep Patterns
- Insomnia is the only major sleep concern when it comes to health. T/F
- My partner snores - but that's just his/her problem, not mine. T/F
- Sleep becomes less important the older you get. T/F
- I know all of the medications I am taking. T/F
- My medications only include what doctors have prescribed me. T/F
- All of the medications I currently take, I will need to take for the rest of my life. T/F
What Stresses Me Out
- Cost of health care is a concern for me. T/F
- My health stresses me out. T/F
- I know that stress can damage my quality of life, but stress itself can't damage my health. T/F
Next up: how to take each of these categories and find ways to make what you are doing work for you rather than against you in a quest to achieve better health, with less use of the current health care system. Yes, it can be done. Yes, we need to do it.
Published On: May 21, 2014