When the Reality of Dollars Shortchanges Health We All Lose

By Sandy Schroeder

In an era, where we hear one health pitch after another, it is easy to believe that most people are on track to becoming healthier. There is one big glitch that is often overlooked. Sometimes individuals simply do not have the dollars to do it right. Long-term health gets shortchanged in favor of simply surviving.

Daily Budget Impacts

Older people living on fixed incomes, families just getting by on low income jobs, and students struggling to finish their education may not always have the dollars in their pockets to eat healthy and stay healthy.

According to a NEJM Catalyst blog post, social, environmental, and behavioral issues impact 60 percent of people’s health needs. The things we focus on so often in medicine account for just 10 percent. Some people know what’s wrong with them and what they need, they just do not have the dollars to make it happen.

Look around at seniors in your neighborhood or families in your community. Find out where you can pitch in on organizational food drives, food kitchens and time or dollar support for other verified assistance organizations that are actively helping people in need.

Reaching Out

Make this a great teaching lesson for your kids. Take them with you to deliver food baskets, help out in a food kitchen, or staff booths for community foundations. It is all too easy to be insulated in an electronic world, never really seeing and feeling the pain of other people who have less. Take them along on charity projects and then talk about it later. You may be surprised how clearly and quickly they see the problem. My kids grew up helping the homeless, rescuing kitten litters, and pitching in with local projects to help others. It’s one more valuable lesson in life. Volunteers receive something from the experience, too.

At the same time, you can promote healthy eating, teaching children the value and economy of eating fresh versus eating processed foods. It is always cheaper and healthier to prepare your own mashed potatoes and fried chicken, or broil your own burgers. Buying in bulk, watching for sales on key items, and comparison shopping can also help people eat better as the cost goes down.

Help Is Vital

We all need to pay attention to the needs of those around us. Staying healthy takes a lot of input.

The World Health Organization points out that health is not just the absence of disease, but the presence of physical, mental and social well-being. All health providers need to reach out to their patients to see the whole picture and make it better.

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