Are We Ever Old Enough to Die?

 

Author Barbara Ehrenreich has decided that she’s done with routine health screenings. That’s because at age 76, she feels she’s old enough to die.

Ehrenreich writes in a thought-provoking article that she is in good health, and she does not wish to spend whatever time she has left in labs and waiting rooms, being poked or prodded or feeling anxious about false positive test results. Many of the recommended screenings, she feels, are unnecessary, and are ordered not with the patient’s actual health in mind, but with the goal of making as much profit as possible for the healthcare establishment.

While her contemporaries tweak their diets and try new exercises routines, monitor their cholesterol levels and sign up for colonoscopies, Ehrenreich opts for a more simple, less faddish lifestyle of eating reasonably healthy and staying moderately active. She concludes, “As for medical care: I will seek help for an urgent problem, but I am no longer interested in looking for problems that remain undetectable to me.”

When I read this, I was really intrigued that someone would consider herself old enough to die. While I’m not afraid of dying, as I see it as a rather natural (and inevitable) aspect of life, I certainly wouldn’t welcome it any time soon!! And I think a lot of people ten, twenty, perhaps even thirty years my senior might feel the same way! And why wouldn’t you welcome a test that could detect a major disease like cancer way before it was “detectable”? Whatever you decide to do with that information, isn’t it true that knowledge is power?

Now, is it possible to drive ourselves nuts with chasing the latest health craze? Certainly. Could we make an argument that, say, a 95-year-old woman probably doesn’t need to subject herself to a mammogram? Or that if a 95-year-old were diagnosed with cancer, it might be an acceptable option to forgo medical intervention? Yes, of course.

And, most assuredly, a 76-year-old has the absolute right to make that same choice. We all draw the line somewhere. 

I’ve heard people complain about doctors ordering tests that seemed completely over the top. (Is it because the doctors get some kind of kickback? Is it to cover their butts so they won’t get sued?) Sometimes patients comply just to be safe, and sometimes they refuse. Sometimes it depends on whether their insurance covers it.

On the flip side, I’ve seen clients devote so much energy to such a strict discipline of “natural” remedies (usually in order to avoid what they consider “unnatural” medical treatments) that to my way of thinking, the time and expense and inflexibility of it all actually diminishes their quality of life.

But that’s just me. I draw the line somewhere in the middle, I guess. I want to live a long, healthy life, and I want to use the best of conventional medicine and complementary remedies to achieve those goals without making myself miserable.

Wherever you draw the line, I do strongly encourage people to self-advocate. When a doctor recommends a test or a procedure that doesn’t make sense to you, ask questions! Feel empowered to get a second and even a third opinion. Do thorough research on trendy recommendations or any alternative therapy that you’re not familiar with. Do what you feel is best for you.

I support whatever path people choose in their wellness journey. Even if they decide they’re old enough to die.

Source:  Literary Hub (lithub.com): “Why I’m Giving Up On Preventative Care: How Contemporary American Medicine Is Testing Us to Death,” by Barbara Ehrenreich. Excerpted from her book: Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer

Category : Blog &Health Posted on August 1, 2018

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