IMAGINE two pathways in front you. One pathway leads to a positive and healthy life, where you are able to engage in activities you are passionate in and you live to a ripe old age.
The other pathway takes you to a life defined by a health condition. Every day you wake up, take your medication and head off for your next medical appointment.
You spend your time focused on your aches and pains as well as grieving about all the activities you used to be able to do. You feel tired and don’t have the energy to spend with loved ones.
Which pathway would you choose? I bet it isn’t the one crippled by illness.
What a morbid start to a column I hear you say. But hey, it’s reality. The majority of us get to live a little longer nowadays (we don’t need to worry about the plague and all that). But that longer time you have up your sleeve is likely to be spent sitting waiting for your doctor or waiting for your prescription at the pharmacy.
Statistically, the health burden lies with chronic disease. You know, those lingering conditions that you can have for a long time (think Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and some cancers). A total of 70% of GP visits are for chronic disease.
The reason you can’t get into your GP when have the flu is because they are busy with people with chronic disease. Yes, chronic diseases. The diseases that are predominantly caused by us living an unhealthy lifestyle.
If you are young now, being older seems a lifetime away. But older people will tell you, time flies. And if you want to have quality of life from middle age onwards and not be dishing out your hard earned dollars to the health care system, then you might want to put your skates on and start looking after yourself now.
In the media we are often show fit and healthy bodies, but given the obesity epidemic and the rise of chronic diseases, the average person isn’t like that. I am not saying you shouldn’t be spending your day posting photos of your abs on social media, but most of us are not doing the right thing in looking after our health.
No one is taking photos of themselves sitting on the couch munching chocolate after a day in front of the computer.
But the majority of us are doing just that.
Our health or unhealthy behaviours that we partake in now link to our quality of life later on. We seem to be content in knowing that if we do get sick, we can just rush to our doctor and get them to fix us.
Many people are still conditioned in that ‘treatment’ mindset rather than the ‘prevention’ mind set which would work out better for us all in the long run.
Many of us do not question paying money for doctors appointments, diagnostic tests or treatments. But yet we ‘um and ah’ about the costs involved in joining a yoga class, buying more vegetables or getting a gym membership. In fact, a gap on some of these diagnostic tests is a gym membership. Why are we so treatment focused as a society?
Why do we unquestionably rush off and pay to get ‘fixed’ by our health system, when we could have prevented it happening in the first place? It is all right there in front of us.
Our choices. If we change our mindset from treatment to prevention, the main emphasis is going to be on avoiding disease in the first place. A few little healthy choices each day are going to make the difference between us spending our latter years living it up or lying in a hospital bed. We can debate about where governments should allocate their health spending, but the buck stops at us as individuals.
To turn a rather morbid article into a positive one, we can all make a difference here and it involves taking up healthy living through prevention ourselves. This involves managing one’s weight, being active, eating a healthy diet, drinking alcohol moderately, not smoking, being social, and managing stress. None of these behaviours need the services of your GP or hospital. None of them require thousands of dollars of your money either.
Prevention is the key element here in improving the health for all of us as well as reducing the social and financial burdens imposed by diseases that are for the most part, avoidable.You can choose which pathway you are going to take from now onwards.
Starting tomorrow, which pathway are you going to take?