I have a newsflash for young people. You will have increased medical issues as you age. The choices you make when you are 20, 30 and 40 years old will have a very strong influence over your lifestyle when you are 50, 60 and 70.
As each successive birthday passes, you will be seeing doctors more often and discussing health issues with your friends. Of course, you have choices. You can ignore things that your body tells you, but you will increase the odds of dying young and leaving your family prematurely. My father refused to go to the doctor and get treatment for high blood pressure, and he had a deadly stroke at age 60.
For more years than I can count, I recall watching TV commercials about wonder drugs. Today there are medicines for every ailment, high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood clots, constipation, depression, digesting problems, ulcers, diabetes, skin problems, eye problems and the list goes on. In the old days, I paid little attention to these advertisements, but today, I listen and take note about which drugs I take now and which I might need in the future.
When you were young, you think you will live forever. At 20 and 30 years you should have very few ailments unless you abuse your body, or you are an unlucky person. Eating excessively, rich foods, alcohol, smoking, too little exercise are all a threat. Moderation is the key, but when you are young you don’t give a damn about such things.
Then as you reach 50 or 60, people your age begin to experience serious illness and pass away. Every story is different, every death is sad. But the realization that we don’t live forever begins to create stress and many times it relates to good health.
And of course, the death of grandparents and parents creates a new awareness and more family responsibility which can be stressful for many.
As a septuagenarian, I spend an inordinate amount of time at doctors’ offices. Earlier in my life, I would have my general practitioner perform an annual checkup. Now, I see my cardiologist at least four times a year. My urologist twice a year. Eye doctor twice a year. Dentist twice a year. If you get examined often enough, doctors will find something wrong which results in other tests, usually scans, MRIs, blood tests, urine tests, EKG’s etc. It seems like every week a doctor is poking, probing and testing another part of my body.
My family is blessed because we have excellent health care insurance. What do you do if you cannot see doctors and specialists because they are not approved by your insurance company? Worse, what if you cannot afford to pay for increasingly more doctor visits? These are issues that millions of people face every day not to mention the stress of collecting money from insurance companies after treatment.
When you think about it, the whole story of life and death makes sense. When a car ages it has it has more issues that need to be dealt with. As we age, our bodies and individual parts of our bodies become tired and cease to operate efficiently. Doctors are available to assist us when problems arise. They treat these afflictions by using drugs in many situations. In fact, the use of prescription drugs and pain relievers has become a separate issue for many Americans.
When you get older you feel more aches and pains as your body screams out telling you to slow down and be more selective of your activities. In my case, I played contact sports for many years and that added to the amount of pain I feel every morning when I get out of bed. I’ve learned to live with these aches and pains without using medication which I think is the wisest choice.
We all age. We all have pain. And we all die. These are realities that we must deal with as we grow older. In many cases, people choose to rely on their religion to deal with problems they face and their ultimate demise. In my humble opinion, I think that religions were in part created to help individuals with the many transitions that they have to make during their life. The biggest one of course is death.
This essay is not an analysis of life and death. It’s not sad to age. Our golden years can be wonderful filled with the joys of family. It is a statement of fact and a warning that as time passes there are more problems to deal with then less. Chief among them are our health and quality of life.