Healthcare professionals have discussed the fact that many people are now living past the seventh decade of life.  On one hand, it is celebrated.  On the other, it is then discussed that there are other health conditions that show up that have to be accounted for long term in older ages.

But because it still happens despite trends, I want to pause and show sympathy for those who have lost someone who was in their seventh decade of life…

Recently, there were three men in the South in their seventh decade of life within or close to our family who passed away all within about 30 days.

The southern part of the US is not only known as the Bible belt but also the cancer belt.  There are not only a lot of food choices there that can lead to poor health, but also lack of governmental care and proactivity from an environmental standpoint.

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The pastor gave a phenomenal speech at one of the funerals I attended.  During his speech he was trying to get the point across that death is something everyone will face one day, that it is just part of life, and gave tips on how to view and cope.  In his use of analogies, there was just one thing I did not agree with how he said it: “Whether you eat fried chicken or not, you’re going to die.”

I knew what he was trying to say, but to a mostly male baby boomer Southern audience, I know most of them likely took it a different way: ‘eat what you want because you’re going to die anyway.’  That is now how I view it, so I am going to explain further. 😊

Taking care of your health can potentially bring enhanced quality of life and elongation of life.  I cannot think of anyone who wants to go through amputations due to diabetes, or lose motility in one half of their body due to a stroke due to uncontrolled high blood pressure.  These are situations where often the choices of your life can in part determine whether or not these things happen to you.  These are also situations that you would potentially still be living through, and thus prompt further focus on ‘quality of life.’

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Sometimes people, particularly men, do not like to share what is going on with them, whether it be due to pride, wanting to maintain independence, not wanting to burden anyone, not wanting to worry others, or something else.  I think the specific reasons I mentioned are usually the most common.

You are most likely not burdening anyone, but if you do cause burden, so what.  I encourage you to not care so much about that.  When you say you’d rather not worry anyone, I think I am probably similar to most in that I’d rather worry than suddenly lose someone I care about to an illness that could have potentially been prevented or lessened in severity, or that could be adequately addressed or resolved.  Worry and grief (particularly shocking grief) are two different things.

Furthermore, as someone in healthcare, and who also has a few other family members in healthcare, it is frustrating when people I care about don’t reach out when they are majorly struggling with their health.  The first thing that comes to my mind is, ‘why didn’t you tell me?  I could have helped…Maybe I could have saved them.’  I am working to accept that is just how some people are, but there is a part of me that thinks otherwise enough to talk about it.   I do not necessarily need the ones I care about to follow my particular instructions.  In fact, I’d much rather refer them, but the type of referral I’d give is different from what they’d think to do on their own, or the type of information I’d give is additionally helpful to what they may be getting elsewhere.

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Regarding preserving independence, it is a fine balance between maintaining it around your loved ones but giving it all away to doctors.  I respect and refer to MDs but the ceiling and narrowing of their knowledge and services is partly why I became an ND.  I now have a better understanding of where they shine and where they do not.

Given that people are living further than the 7th decade of life, it is a very sad thing for me to observe some 7th decade spouses becoming widows.  When you are making your daily, weekly and monthly choices in life, think about if that is what you want your spouse to experience.  Have you had conversations with them about the risks you are willing to take or whether or not you care to live past a certain older age?  If you haven’t, your spouses are going to fight to keep you alive and they may mourn more if you leave at what they consider ‘too soon.’  If you do not care if you live past a certain older age and you know your behaviors are likely going to reflect that, let them know ahead of time.

When people think about illness, sometimes they think ‘I’ll deal with it if it happens.’  i.e. ‘I’ll rely on the doctors to get me better.’  What if you can start relying on yourself now, to keep certain illnesses from occurring, or to keep them from getting as severe.  Ex. Working with a doctor on stage 1 cancer can be different from working with them on it when it is Stage 4.  Ex. Experiencing a mild stroke can be different from experiencing a major one.

It is often classic for men particularly to wait until things are quite bad before seeking help, and that is in part why they typically die earlier.  In other words, fried chicken isn’t the only reason.  Mindset and the choices that follow are big ones too.  These are variables you can potentially nudge in life.

To my clients who have experienced shock, grief, unresolved trauma, or even loss from a long time ago, I often provide them the flower essence called Star of Bethlehem.  Clients do not come to me for grief.  They are instead coming for a physical issue.  But due to how I help as an ND, working on trauma from the past may in part be how I help them with their physical issue.

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