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Are You the Steward of Your Well- Being? The SeniorScape™

Ruth Aborjaily was this week’s guest on SeniorsSTRAIGHT Talk. We met only recently at an event. Of course, upon meeting our conversation turned to our professional work, but then continued with our passions and visions for how we’d like to create impact.

When I shared my ideas about conscious choices and Mindful Longevity her response immediately captured much of what I had been thinking and I immediately proposed having her as a guest on SeniorsSTRAIGHTTalk.

She shared her story. Her husband passed at an early age; several years later her father had a stroke.

Seeing her father in failing health and having to help care for him, helped her realize that her own health was of paramount importance. She credits the decision to be the steward of her own well-being as the reason she was able to care for her mother who became frail as she advanced in years; she lived to 94 years of age.

Ruth understood the importance of physical, mental and emotional fitness in the upper decades of life. She became reenergized, pursuing various forms of exercise, including Tabata, a protocol developed in 1996 by Izumi Tabata in Tokyo. He discovered that athletes who performed extra-intense, four-minute interval workouts five days per week for six weeks increased their anaerobic capacity and the amount of oxygen they consumed during exercise more than athletes following other protocols. They also experienced boosts to their metabolism. That was the origin of the Tabata workout.

Though I have been proposing the importance of making conscious choices which goes hand in hand with mindfulness, because at the root of conscious decision making is mindfulness, what struck me was that Ruth took it further by saying that it is our responsibility as adults to be the stewards of our health.

For many years I’ve used the metaphor that our bodies are like a car. When the car’s timing is off, the starter or alternator out of whack, the car cannot start. Without proper lubrication and the appropriate fluids in the engine, radiator, and gas tank, respectively, the car cannot run. If a hose springs a leak, the car may overheat or fluid will spew onto the innards under the hood. If a tire goes flat, well, the car just cannot run. Therefore, we are in the driver’s seat as the driver of our own car.

Let’s look at health and well-being, or lack thereof, as it relates to health expenditures. In 2000, health expenditures reached approximately $1.4 trillion. in 2020 the amount spent on health tripled to $4.1 trillion. Health spending amounted to approximately $12,530 per person which equates to 19.7% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

This spending can be broken down into the following categories:

· Hospital care

· Physician services

· Clinical services

· Prescription drugs

· Nursing care facilities

· Home health care

· Other personal health care costs

· Government administration: includes all administrative costs associated with insuring individuals in health insurance programs

· Net cost of health insurance: The difference between what insurers incur in premiums and the amount paid in benefits. This includes administrative costs, additions to reserves, rate credits and dividends, premium taxes and fees, and net underwriting gains or losses

· Government public health activities

The American Medical Association new Policy Research Perspective provided an in-depth look at United States health spending in 2019 and is engaged in a number of efforts that have the potential to further reduce the rate of growth in health care costs by addressing common medical conditions that develop in many Americans.

As such, the American Medical Association not only promotes the art and science of medicine but is also committed to the betterment of public health.

Promoting participation in evidence based lifestyle modification programs such as the

National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is one way to reduce or delay the onset of diabetes among those with prediabetes. Diabetes is known as one condition that contributes substantially to healthcare (or rather sickcare) costs that is a strain on the American economy. But the rise in medical spending associated with diabetes begins well in advance of the first diagnosis, supporting the need to encourage physicians to implement timely prevention efforts. Those diagnosed with diabetes spent approximately $8,491 more than those that were not diagnosed over a span of 5 years prior to the first diagnosis. Approximately $4,828 was spent in the year of diagnosis.

The American Medical Association is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase physicians’ awareness of and referrals to the Centers for Disease Control recognized lifestyle change program to mitigate the burdens associated with diabetes.

The American Medical Association research shows that changes in lifestyle can reduce annual health care costs by nearly $2,700 per person and have a 3-year return on investment as high as 42%. They recommend organizations use the American Medical Association Diabetes Prevention Program Cost Savings Calculator to determine potential savings.

The message is clear, whether it's food choices that may contribute to diabetes, or any other lifestyle or food choice that may result in an undesirable or less than desirable health outcome, it is within our conscious control. As Ruth Aborjaily stated, it may even be our personal responsibility. I would dare say it is even our civic responsibility to be the steward of our well-being. The savings to our own lives, our families, and our economy can not be underestimated.

The Place to Begin is WITHIN. The Time to Begin is NOW!!!1

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