Most of us consider that we look after ourselves pretty well. We nod our agreement that the way we care for ourselves affects the quality of our daily life. Self Care, we conclude, is our responsibility. The words 'Self Care' was used back in 1998 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and, since then, research consistently shows that we can dramatically influence our health as we age by conscientious self care.
Self Care empowers us to improve the quality of your daily life, and can vary from brushing our teeth, to ensuring a balanced diet, to taking regular exercise, and so on. It (self care) can also involve treating minor symptoms such as a mild headache or a cold ourself, using products purchased over-the-counter at the local pharmacy. And, in the case of chronic, or longer-term conditions, or to maintain and increase wellness, many people choose to use Self Care health products as supplements or in combination with prescription medicines - vitamin supplements, fish oils, etc. (Remember, of course, to always advise your health practitioner of all the products you are using, whether they're prescription or non-prescription.)
In his book, Dare to Be 100, Walter Bortz lists regular exercise, proper nutrition, stress management, injury prevention, proper use of medication, and quitting smoking as helping to keep the body disease-free, longer.
So, Self Care offers a way to living a longer, better life. And it's backed-up by some impressive data. Research continues to show that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce most of the more common dis-eases of ageing - heart disease, blood pressure, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, colon cancer, osteoporotic fractures - as well as fostering a sense of well-being.
Yet, just when you thought that taking responsibility for one's own health makes good sense, a recent U.S. study found that:
- only 23 percent of men and 14 percent of women aged 75+ exercised regularly;
- approximately two thirds of those 65 and older are overweight or obese;
- half of the elderly don't regularly comply with their medication regimens; and
- more than 8 percent of the elderly still smoke. (The study didn't say what constituted 'elderly'.)
Self Care, it seems, has a long way to go. You can play your part by having others follow your lead.