Sunday, June 20, 2010

WHAT'S OLD - Wednesday 9th June

It never ceases to amaze me the continued call on public funds to meet the rising cost of medical services because of the increasing age profile of the community.

There are a few things that come to mind here.

1. What's old? I asked Adolf, at 83 the second oldest member at Fit and Healthy, (the gym I used to run) whether he thought he was old. He gave an emphatic 'NO'.

2. Getting older is not a cause of poor health. Being older doesn't mean you have to be in poorer health than you were when you were younger. OK, there will be a bit of wear and tear, that's normal, but chronic poor health, is by and large preventable. Certainly it doesn't mean that once you get old you can expect to be sickly all the time. The fact that some older people are sicker than some younger people has got nothing to do with age. I keep telling people that the older they are the longer they've had to train!

3. Why have succeeding governments sought to accept such a large public responsibility for individual poor health, when most of the poor health around is privately generated and privately preventable? This seems a bizarre proposition. I support the public role for the support of some poor health. Of course the best thing governments have done to improve health over the last 100 years is to improve sanitation.

The definition of old
Sooner or later the Government has to provide a definition of what's old? Is it 65, 70, 75, 80?Adolf didn't feel old at 80.

The main generators of health problems at any age are lack of vigorous physical activity, an inappropriate diet and an inability to manage the stress of one's internal and external environments. To attribute the blame for poor health on getting older is drawing a particularly long bow.

We live in the golden age, where more and more people are being blessed with the conditions of life that foster and support the ability to grow older. Good government, technology and affluence have enabled this to happen, quite apart from what we do for ourselves. If people never had it so good in Harold McMillan's England, they've certainly got it better in the Australia that's been handed down through the generations of governments from Mr Menzies to Mr Rudd.

Let's not spoil our old age by being unhealthy.

On the track
Out with the boys.

In the meantime stay tuned, highly tuned and age healthily.

John Miller

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