Local View: Shared knowledge necessary to cope with chronic illness
Today, almost half of adult Americans, 133 million of us, suffer from a chronic illness. Among Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older, the statistics are worse; more than half are being treated for multiple chronic conditions. Our children are the f...
Today, almost half of adult Americans, 133 million of us, suffer from a chronic illness. Among Medicare beneficiaries 65 and older, the statistics are worse; more than half are being treated for multiple chronic conditions. Our children are the first generation in decades predicted to have a reduced lifespan and reduced health.
The use of palliative drugs in chronic illness isn’t a return to health. Rather, it increases disability and diminishes quality of life. The Centers for Disease Control ascribes seven out of 10 deaths to chronic diseases, and adverse palliative drug reactions are a leading cause of death in the United States.
Health care spending for a person with a chronic condition is almost three times greater than for someone without a chronic condition. These illnesses rob us of more years of life than all infectious diseases. This personal and economic impact is bringing us to our knees.
Over the past 50 years the United States has seen an exponential rise in chronic disease. Chronic diseases are the main cause of the loss of quality of life, absenteeism and lowered work productivity.
Insurance premiums are continuing to rise, and insurers are withdrawing from the Affordable Care Act. Before the act, there was a debt load of more than $383,000 per person.
Social Security has become our most ominous unsustainable program, leading to unending deficits. Since the 1960s, the disability portion of Social Security has had five revisions. The portion of the population considered disabled grew to
40 percent. Then there was a revision. This represents five deviations toward a sicker America.
For so much of world history, the burden of disease was to be found in the risks of infectious diseases in children, which caused rampant infant mortality and early childhood deaths. Now, the risks are on the other end of life, the years lived with chronic diseases. In a 20-year study (1990 to 2010), the greatest increase in chronic illness and disability came from the environment, diet and lifestyle.
You can educate yourself about environment, diet and lifestyle, making yourself a health assurance plan. But there is no complete cure for chronic disease unless the cause of the individual’s own disease is discovered and successfully managed. For effective treatment of chronic illness, the individual must engage continually in different approaches to his or her health. The individual knows the most about his or her own condition and about the effects of certain therapies and must apply that knowledge in shaping a self-management program. To achieve success, the individual and the individual’s health professionals must share knowledge and divide authority.
Donna Gangestad of Two Harbors is a doctor of chiropractic.