In a recent report titled” Australian Health Services: too complex to navigate” an expert panel studied 16 major national reviews of Australia’s Health System over the last 35 years and found that our current health system is desperately in need of reform.
At a time when we have a large and growing population of over 50s, the report states that the proportion of Australia’s total health expenditure dedicated to the prevention of illness is less than 2%.
For those of us over 50 and no longer bulletproof, this focus on treating illnesses, rather than preventing them, is a disaster. It’s unbelievable that in spite of overwhelming evidence about the benefits of regular exercise, a balanced diet and a positive attitude, our health system still encourages us simply to go to a doctor and seek drugs or surgery when we become ill. The idea of promoting the fact that “prevention is better than cure” doesn’t receive much financial support.
I guess it comes down to each of us making our own decisions about how we want to manage our own health. We can pass the responsibility for our health to our doctor and the medical profession or we can decide that our health is our own responsibility. I’m not suggesting for one minute that we walk away from our excellent medical services and opt for only alternative therapies. I am advocating that we play an active role in trying to prevent illnesses by adopting a healthy lifestyle.
I’m reminded of the advice I received from a very experienced health professional – “When you’re over 50, exercise is no longer optional”. Contrary to popular opinion, we should not give up exercising because “we’re getting older.” Sure, we don’t want to be exercising like an Olympic athlete – that can cause harm, but if we adopt an exercise regime appropriate to our age and fitness level, the benefits will be significant.
If you decide to join a gym, I would suggest that you find a fitness instructor that is experienced in working with older people. Joining an aerobics class of 20 year olds in lycra is not a great idea!
Because there are lots of health issues and challenges for over 50s which are different to the general population, we published a book designed to assist retirees to improve their health. It’s titled “How to stay Healthy, Active and Sharp in Retirement”. It contains a comprehensive range of easy to read articles from 15 leading health experts. You can find out all about it on this web site.