Monday, November 21, 2011

Adding Life to Our Years

I am often struck by the difference in life goals with different aged clients. Some days I am helping a young 19 year old college squash player improve her lateral explosiveness; and other days I am simply helping out an 80 year old grip odd objects with ease. It brings me back to my very first public health lecture in college. The genesis of that lecture was based around two hard incomparable facts: humans want to live disease free and we don't want to die soon.

In order to understand those facts; I am often perplexed by society's response or lack of response, to personal health maintenance. It saddens me how many of us do not take responsibility for our own health and lack the energy to be PROACTIVE in regards to taking care of ourselves. It seems many of us have become very REACTIVE in this age of prescription pills, frequent doctor visits, and overuse of over-the-counter medications.

How do we add more life to our years? First we must understand that when gains in life expectancy are greater than gains in healthy life expectancy, we may experience more years in poor health--rather than more years in quality health. And simply living longer does not guarantee that there will be no consequences for poor lifestyle choices. Here are 6 points to consider:

Mortality vs. Longevity - The healthier we live and the better lifestyle choices we make increase our chances of living a long life. That is only step one. The kind of long life we live is step two.

Morbidity vs. Health - Simply living a long life doesn't mean we will live a healthier life. Understanding that living a long life means living independently and fully functional. Being in the best health that one can be will ensure that life's enjoyment will be experienced later in life.

Life Span vs. Health Span - Our lives are a conglomerate of choices. We can live our lives with purposeful-ness -- taking action to maintain a healthy lifestyle, healthy diet, and partake in physical activity...OR we can allow life to live us. The latter choice ensures that we lose every bit of control and lose our ability to plan ahead.

Disabled vs. Functional - On our way to aging we must maintain the functionality that has allowed us to venture through life. Maintaining the ability to function in all activities of daily living ensures that we will enjoy life to our fullest capacity and not just "wait around" to die.

Dependent vs. Independent - Strong individuals are mostly independent. Why? Because strength ensures control and the ability to be independent makes certain that age does not affect one's attitude and outlook on life.

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