We have all seen the commercial. It is hard to forget the image of the older man living two very different lives. One life is active and the other, is spent in a hospital bed. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo6QNU8kHxI)
The Make Health Last campaign by the Heart and Stroke Foundation asks each of us, “What will your last 10 years of life look like?” According to the Heart And Stroke Foundation of Canada, with a little help and effort, you can decrease your chances of living the life of the latter image.
Baby Boomers Have More Chronic Illness And Disability Than Their Parents
Baby boomers engage in less physical activity and are more overweight than previous generations (40% compared to 29%), and are offsetting the advances of modern medicine that would otherwise enable them to live longer, healthier lives according to a study released in JAMA Internal Medicine. They are becoming sicker earlier in life, are more limited in what they can do at work and are more likely to need the use of a cane or walker.
Although Canadians are living longer, according to Statistics Canada, on average, there’s a 10-year gap between how long we live, and how long we live in health. This gap is mainly due to heart disease, stroke and other chronic conditions.The Conference Board of Canada reports that chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, cancer, mental illnesses and diabetes) account for 67% of all direct healthcare costs and 60% of all indirect costs, which include lost productivity and income.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s 2013 Report on the Health of Canadians says baby boomers must act now to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke and “Make Health Last”. Most boomers think that they are doing a good job, though that may not be the case. The Heart and Stroke Foundation poll found that almost 80% of Canadian boomers think their doctors would rate them as healthy, yet their self-reported lifestyle choices would show otherwise. 85% of boomers reported not eating enough vegetables and fruit, more than 40% are not getting enough physical activity each week, 21% smoke, and 11% are heavy drinkers. While the large majority of boomers said they feel stressed at least sometimes, almost 30% reported that they are often or always stressed.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation more than a quarter of Canadian baby boomers don’t feel concerned about how healthy they will be later in life, yet 9 in10 Canadians already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke and nearly 4 in 10 have three or more risk factors. 74% do not know that they can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 80% with a few lifestyle modifications.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation goes on to say that Canadians have the power to Make Health Last and shrink the 10-year gap between how long they live and how long they live with health by addressing five controllable behaviours that can affect heart disease and stroke risk:
- Physical inactivity results in nearly four years of quality life lost
- Eating a poor diet equals nearly three years of quality life lost
- Excessive stress can cost nearly two years or more of quality life
- Quitting smoking can add two and a half more years of quality life
- Excessive drinking costs Canadians two years of quality life
The MakeHealthLast.ca website helps visitors to assess their risk factors and find tips and tools for making healthy lifestyle changes. This is so simple to do and the results so easy to see. I rated 14 out of 16 for healthy behaviours. 2 areas that increase my risk of illness include family history and not eating enough fruits and vegetables every day. Time to concentrate on my lunch choices.
One area, that I wish that they would have included more on, would have been around sleep. Research by Nord- Troendelag Health Trust and published in the European Heart Journal shows that those who experience any of the three major sleep issues: trouble falling asleep, problems staying asleep, and not waking up feeling refreshed in the morning, were more than three times more likely to develop heart failure compared with those with no insomnia symptoms.
The summer is a great time to concentrate on becoming healthier. Promote the MakeHealthLast.ca website with colleagues, friends and family members and encourage them to share the areas that they wish to address. Small steps really do make a difference. I am looking forward to my “golden” years and hope that I am still gardening in my flower beds, fishing on the lake, showing the youngsters that I can still do my karate katas, and playing hide and seek with my future grandkids.
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
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Beverly Beuermann-King, www.WorkSmartLiveSmart.com