I was playing with my youngest son the other day and I couldn’t help but worry about the world into which he’ll grow. Will it be safe? Will it be healthy? Will he be able to afford all of the wonderful comforts that I am blessed with? I was watching him play with such an innocence built upon having not a clue about what may or may not be. I felt a heavy responsibilty at that moment to do my very best to build a financial future that I can give over to him and his sisters to help them get a little boost in the difficult task of charting the seas of adulthood.
I then got to thinking about many of my patients and how we as the medical community are serving them. We have made so many advances at prolonging life through the management of chronic diseases. Unfortunately, those advantages come with a great financial burden. The costs of care for managing many of the chronic conditions most Americans deal with these days are astronomical and only rising. The costs of medications, hospitalizations, and worst of all – long term care.
I had an obese patient recently who had a massive stroke. He had never taken care of himself and never heeded the warnings of his doctors and family. It ended up catching up with him. Fortunately, advances in stroke care helped him survive the stroke. Unfortunately, he was left severely debilitated. The family was forced to have him placed in a nursing home because he required full time nursing support that they couldn’t provide. The problem was that the funding for that nursing home dried up his savings and the entire value of his estate. In essence, it cost him his children’s inheritance. He was one of the lucky ones. Countless others have nothing to spend and are left to substandard nursing home care which can be appalling.
It occurred to me that, maybe, if he had heeded his doctor’s advice – if he had exercised, lost weight, watched his diet, etc – he wouldn’t have been in that sad situation. He never would have had the stroke. He would have had more years to work and build his savings, plan ahead, and leave a solid legacy to his children. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. Not only did he lose the quality time he could have spent with his children, he lost the money he would have spent on his children.
Every day, across America, people are spending the money they had hoped to give over to their children and grandchildren for costly medical care. In many of these cases, this expense could have been avoided if they just ate right, exercised, and lost weight. For those of you who cannot get motivated to do it for your own sake, please think about what it means to your children and grandchildren. That extra slice of cake doesn’t taste good enough to cost you your legacy.
PS: Happy 100th post to the staff of the weight loss counter revolution!