These are a few of the lessons that I have learned from my patients, from being a patient and from being a caregiver.
1.When you think you have 99 problems you really don’t even have one.
The toe pain, the back pain, the foot pain, the cold, running out of your cholesterol pill when the doctor’s office is closed, the mortgage, the car payments, the belly fat these are not REALLY problems. I always remember my patient who has NO ARMS and NO LEGS as a result of a botched gastric bypass surgery. This always seems to put things into perspective. Be grateful for your eyes, ears, legs, arms, house, car, friends, family, food— and the list is unlimited.
2. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail
If you don’t have something called an Advance Directive or you don’t discuss what your last wishes are with your family or appoint a Health Care Proxy—- YOU ARE SCREWED. You will be very uncomfortable in your last days- for it is an unbearable burden of guilt for any family member to decide “comfort care” i.e. no more aggressive treatment despite understanding the terminal nature of the situation. Don’t let them have to make that decision. They will almost always opt for tubes, machines, compressions even if the treatments or interventions are medically futile. When is medical treatment futile ?
3. We are not invincible.
Even though we may try to live a healthy, balanced and active life, THINGS HAPPEN like car accidents and rare forms of cancer. So don’t refuse screening tests like colonoscopies and mammograms to catch early detectable cancers. Don’t refuse blood pressure pills and cholesterol pills if you need them. They help to prevent strokes and heart attacks. These interventions save lives. Use the “bush medicine” as an adjunct not a replacement for allopathic medicines.
4. Friends and Family are important
This one is self explanatory – they will be there in your time of need so don’t stop investing time into your relationships with friends and family. Refer to my Friendship post here for details on their impact on longevity.
5. It is smart to have a Long term care insurance policy in your back pocket.
This ties in with #3. Usually we do not expect to have a stroke or heart attack or get a diagnosis of cancer or let’s not forget DEMENTIA. The cost of home care/ nursing homes is tremendously expensive and if you are lucky enough to have a child/ family member to care for you- caregiver burnout is real. Long term Care insurance covers services not covered by primary insurance or medicare like home care and nursing home costs. Countless numbers of my patients have advised me to invest in this while I am young for you never know what curve ball life will throw at you.