Healthy Habits Can Reduce Future Health Care Costs
Our population is aging, and this is always a factor in health care costs. All the technological advances and health care innovations keep us living longer and longer while managing chronic conditions that would have resulted in death not that long ago.
We live in a country where basic health care is available to all and thank goodness for that. But, when all you have to do to get medical care is show your health care card, the actual costs can easily be ignored. How much does our health care cost us in taxpayer dollars? 70 percent of spending is taken care of by provincial and territorial governments.
The majority of public funding goes to hospitals. Surprisingly, only six percent is allocated to drugs/medications even though, according to CBC News, “Canadians pay the second highest medication costs for common conditions compared to nine other countries with universal healthcare systems”.
Related: Canadian Universal Drug Program
There is always talk of health care reform to reduce future costs – more efficient use of facilities and staff, more generic drugs, and increasingly adopting user pay systems.
But, one of the best ways to reduce your personal health care costs is to take responsibility for your own health. Even those with a genetic predisposition to various illnesses and disabilities can find some relief.
Boomers remember growing up with:
- No seat belts strapping us in the family car.
- No requirements for using bike helmets and knee and elbow pads.
- The family doctor blowing cigarette smoke in our faces during a routine physical.
- Chewing on toys painted with lead paint.
- Dolls and bears with glass eyes and tiny accessories.
- Asbestos in the walls.
- Our parents’ trendy fiberglass drapes.
- Slingshots, peashooters and bows and arrows with real metal tips.
We’ve made it this far in one piece, now it’s up to us to take it a step further.
Design your own wellness routine
While some diseases do become more common, getting older doesn’t automatically mean poor health. Plenty of older adults enjoy vigorous health well into their 90’s.
Healthy habits can pay big dividends in the long run.
Positive measures such as healthy eating – at least most of the time – staying physically and socially active and managing stress can help you cope with change and reduce health risks. Smoking and obesity are leading causes of chronic conditions.
Many adults don’t exercise as they get older and tend to be overly sedentary. Exercise can maintain your strength and agility, and even diminish chronic pain. Loss of balance is the main cause of falling that can result in serious injuries to hips, wrists and spine. Recovery times can often take several months, and you may never become fully rehabilitated.
Check with your doctor and then find an activity that motivates you to continue.
Memory loss is not an inevitable part of aging. Maybe you don’t remember things as quickly or easily anymore but learning new things can keep your mind sharp.
The bottom line
The older we get the more likely we will suffer health problems. However, many health care issues are due to bad lifestyle choices and those have a direct link to poor health and accidents as we age.
Keeping active, developing interests and having good family and social connections make life more enjoyable, and can distract you from inevitable aches and pains.
You’ve been diligent in socking away money for your golden years. Make sure you follow the formula for staying healthy as well, so you’re not just surviving – you’re making these years the best of your life.