I hear these phrases almost daily “I never expected to live this long…Don’t get old…If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself…I don’t know why they call these the golden years?”. What are all these people talking about? They are talking about their personal quality of life. Think to yourself, at what age would you expect someone to start saying these things? 70? 80? Let me tell you, the people who say these things, are much younger, sometimes even 30-40 year olds. Have I opened your eyes yet?
The issue here is about your personal longevity, or life expectancy, coupled with your quality of life. If you are an avid reader of this blog you should be beginning to start to understand that life is made up of choices and we are presented with choices that are both unhealthy and healthy; such choices as to eat the baked potato with sour cream and butter or the side salad with dressing on the side. It is important to realize that these simple lifestyle choices can greatly affect your quality of life both immediately and in your future.
Centurions today, when they were born, were expected to live into their 50’s. These same centurions are now being surprised by their old age, both physically and financially. The British Medical Journal stated that babies born in westernized countries in the year 2000 have a 50% chance to live to 100 years old. The question then becomes who will be that 50%? and what should they be doing to prepare themselves both physically and financially? To attempt to answer the who? You should first ask yourself: Do you have older parents/grandparents? If you do, then realize that you have some of their DNA and having that DNA increases your chances that you will live a long life. However, DNA is only part of the picture. John D. and Catherine T. of the MacArthur Foundation estimated that aging is based on a ratio of 70% lifestyle and 30% DNA. Understand that you do not have control over your DNA make up, but you do have control over your lifestyle.
Top leading causes for death according to the CDC:
Heart disease, Cancer, Stroke, Chronic respiratory diseases, accidents, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza and pneumonia, kidney diseases, septicemia
Finding the motivation
The next obvious question then becomes: What are you going to do daily to prepare for a long life? For most of us it is not really about wanting to live to see 100 years old, it is more about quantity of quality years. I believe the first step is finding your personal motivation for change. Some people are scared into change. For example, they go to their doctor for a yearly check up and the doctor tells them that if they do not get their weight and blood pressure under control they are going to have a heart attack. Others just want to do everything possible so that their body is not in agony and their quality of life is high.
The next step is to address the common arguments for not taking control of your longevity and quality of life. The most common arguments are: “I can not afford to”, “I don’t have time to”, or “my insurance doesn’t cover it”. Don’t let obstacles get in your way, don’t let your insurance company dictate your life; in your lifetime you will go through multiple different insurance companies, but you are born with only one irreplaceable body that only you care the most about. Health insurance is similar to car insurance; they will pay for the accidents but not for the up keep or maintenance. Depending on what you read, studies show that 50-60% of bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical debt, 70% of people driven into dept have insurance that denied care, and 49% of people said they refused treatment due to the cost. For those who say you can not afford to and don’t have enough time, in my opinion you can not afford not to. Have you ever been told the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Ask around, heart attacks, if you survive, are very costly, very time consuming, and inconvenient. Many of these chronic diseases can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle.
Some people will argue if my body is not broken, then why fix it? Do you wait for your cars engine to blow up before changing its oil? So, why wait for a heart attack to start eating healthy and exercising? Maybe what you need to do is redefine what you consider broken. Maybe broken should be defined as not functioning to your peak performance, not standing up straight, not being flexible, having bad balance, physically weak, high blood pressure, over weight, or unhealthy eating habits. The way some people treat their body is do nothing, and then seek care for a crisis. As a society we need to change the way we take care of our body to a similar model as our teeth. We need to have a continuum of home care, health care, and then crisis care. In dentistry we have home care being brushing your teeth, flossing, and mouth wash, health care is the routine check ups for cleaning, and then the crisis care is the root canal’s and other more in depth procedures. If you never did any home care for your teeth would you wonder why your breath smells and your teeth are rotten? Then what makes you think you can do nothing for your body and expect it not to waste away.
In summary, there is no magic supplement to make you loose weight, exercise, and be healthy. Nobody is going to get your finances in order for you. Like your doctor, a financial planer can only guide you on these issues. Ultimately, it is 100% up to you. Eliminate your arguments that are holding you back, and remember it is about progress not immediate perfection, one small improvement at a time.