It is an established fact that Americans are living longer and longer, but one can’t help but wonder if we are living better. Healthcare predictions paint a bleak picture as our life spans increase and more and more of us are living with a chronic health condition adding millions if not billions of dollars to national healthcare costs. More importantly, these chronic health conditions are also diminishing our quality of life, limiting our time and ability to participate in activities we love, and undermining the time we spend with our family and friends.
Anyone with a chronic disease will tell you that their life is now dramatically different from what it was before the onset of their condition. Chronic pain in particular, a condition so often treated with pain numbing medications, greatly alters a person’s life, physically and mentally, often in insidious ways until the changes are irreversible. Modern medicine is designed to treat a problem after the symptoms have become so problematic that it can be diagnosed as a disease. Minor symptoms that are often signs of things to come are often dismissed, such as the occasional ache or pain, a history of sleepless nights, or a history of minor digestive problems going back to childhood. Medical problems such as these are often efficiently and cost effectively resolved through lifestyle management such as diet, exercise, and meditation, or natural therapies such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractic, and naturopathic medicine.
As an Acupuncture and Traditional Asian Medicine practitioner, I have worked with many people who have worked hard all their lives; working, stressing, and pushing themselves to the limits of their endurance to achieve what they want in life. Often focusing only on the present goal at the expense of their long-term health and welfare, many of these people often hit a wall in their forties, fifties, or sixties when they are given a devastating diagnosis that alters their lives. Sometimes it is a diagnosis of cancer, an autoimmune disease such as Crohn’s or Lupus, or intractable pain from a degenerating spine that can no longer bear the load it has been subjected to. Most of these people will tell you the same thing. If they had known then what they know now after suffering from this disease, they never would have pushed themselves so hard and they would have done whatever it took to take better care of themselves.
So with that in mind…..How do you want to live? Do you want to roll the dice and see how things turn out for you, or do you want to take action now and do whatever you can to live a long, high quality life where you are not denied the life you want to live? More and more Americans are choosing the latter and are embracing lifestyle changes that will dramatically improve their quality of life as they get older. While we may never be able to scientifically prove whether taking better care of ourselves will prevent cancer or an autoimmune disease, we do know that lowering our stress, eating right, and taking care of any minor health related issues along the way will certainly improve our quality of life in the years to come. To me it’s just common sense and that’s how I want to live.