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20 to 30 years -- shifting away from
random, infrequent, and catastrophic
events driven by accidents, genetic
predisposition, or contagious disease
and toward behaviour -- and lifestyle
-- induced chronic conditions. Treating
them now costs more than treating the
more random, catastrophic events.
What's more, the number of people
afflicted by chronic conditions continues
to grow at an alarming rate."
This quote from the McKinsey
Quarterly ought to send a wake up call
to everyone who has something to do
with the healthcare industry.
If we are to really control health costs
in this country, we need to get away
from the mentality that the drug industry
will develop a pill to help overcome our
weaknesses and we need to get back
into shape and lose weight and regain
control over our lives. The recession,
and the change in lifestyle values that
has come with it, may well provide the
catalyst for change that the healthcare
industry so dearly needs.
Given that there is concern the global
financial crisis still has some way to go,
it is inevitable it will continue to have
a damaging impact on the health and
wellbeing of many people experiencing
this crisis firsthand. So it is even more
important to support one another and
take the time to do those little things
that bring light to a somewhat gloomy
When people are faced with a crisis
or loss, it's not unusual for them to
turn to habits such as smoking, or
having the extra nip or two of alcohol.
Financial stress has been associated
with behaviour proven to increase heart
disease risk. Smokers, for example, are
13 per cent less likely to quit during
economic hard times, and ex-smokers
are more likely to relapse. Drinkers tend
to drink more, which drives up blood
pressure, and alcoholics who have quit
drinking are more prone to relapse
when exposed to chronic stress. People
also eat less heart-healthy foods during
times of stress, such as more sweets and
carbohydrates, increasing their risk of
obesity and associated health risks.
A friend of mine recently lost
everything at the mercy of the financial
crisis, marriage, house, car.... yet she is
the happiest I have seen her in years.
She is growing her own veggies, cooking
healthy meals and walking her children
to school. So irony lies behind the
doom and gloom. When everything
else in your life seems out of control,
realigning your self with the basic
structural fundamentals of living can bring
happiness, health and fulfilment.
For many, recession or no recession,
everyday life has been a struggle for
years. The single parent scraping by, the
elderly neighbour who rarely ventures
out and sits in darkness day after day, the
disabled and their carers who struggle
each day to get by, but they do. So
it's important to keep everything
in perspective. Perhaps it's good that
we have all felt a little hardship and
perhaps now we will be more willing to
reach out a hand to those who need a
Of course, I'm not advocating that
we should all have a sea change and live
on lentils, but we do need to take some
time out to breathe a little more and
enjoy those gifts we have at hand. It's
been an all too familiar story -- parents
who don't see their children because
they are too busy working to pay off the
mortgage or school fees; children who
hardly get to enjoy their homes because
they are too busy with extra curricular
activities to be the best at everything
To me, the best part of the recession
or global economic crisis or slowdown
or whatever we want to label it, is that
people are becoming more focused on
family values, and have started doing
that strange thing called ... cooking!
Sharing a family meal together at the
table, embracing conversation, laughing
together and sharing stories.
This is a time when we can come
closer together to strengthen friendships
and hey, if you've been laid off work
now's the perfect opportunity to embrace
something new, and do something that
you've always wanted to do. Reach out
and warm someone's heart, make a cake
and invite some friends around, visit your
family or pop in on someone you know
may be needing some conversation and
We often say, "I wish I had more
time." Now that we have it, let's put it to
good use and eat more cake!
'The recession, and the change in lifestyle
values that has come with it, may well provide
the catalyst for change that the healthcare
industry so dearly needs.
© NOVA SEPTEMBER 2009 19
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