There is plenty of evidence out that that tells us exercise can help prevent diseases among older people. If we could continue with a real health care plan married up with preventive services we could save money in the long run. You need to do your part though. Log onto VA’s MOVE! Program and check out their really cool handouts at. Even if you know how to eat right and exercise, these short online handouts could help motivate you towards healthier behaviors. As a Health Coach for the state of Oklahoma, I encourage almost all my clients (whether military or not), to log on and propel themselves toward a healthier mind and body. Even if you are a “young pup” it’s not too early to start with some good habits, however, if you are retired, there’s even more incentive to get and stay healthy.
People born between 1946 and 1964—baby-boomers—are becoming senior citizens and already are impacting the face of health care significantly. The most substantial demand on the public health system with regard to the growing elderly population is financial. Specifically, people are living longer, suffering more chronic illnesses, becoming more obese, their personal functionality is dwindling; the elderly are spending more money on medications, and are taking advantage of more restorative surgeries. For example, total knee and hip replacements, two procedures to increase functionality for the elderly, has nearly tripled between the year 1980 and 1990. Bypass surgery, another procedure to increase functionality of the elderly, increased 195% between 1995 and 2004. Even chronic diseases among the elderly are on the rise.
In 2002, the cost for long-term care of the elderly was $137 billion, which equates to almost 12% of all health care dollars; more than 60% of that is paid for by the American taxpayer in the form of Medicare or Medicaid. By the year 2035, spending for these socialized programs—including Social Security—will be nearly doubled. David Walker, Comptroller General of the U.S. testified before the Special Committee on Aging that long term health involving these senior citizens isn’t just consigned to health. It also involves nutrition, transportation, housing, and social support to maintain independent living. All of this will put a drain on financial reserves from both a public view as well as a personal or individual view.
So, get out there and do your part to stave off this potential disaster. Take a walk, go for a run, ride your bike or just play with your kids. Wouldn’t you rather have fat wallets and thinner bodies? Think about it.
Lissa Wohltmann is a retired Navy commander and public affairs officer. She is currently a health coach for the state of Oklahoma.