Key Scripture: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. - Proverbs 17:22
Long-Term Health Care
Many Americans believe that they will not have a problem when it comes to long-term health care. They believe that Medicare or Medicare supplement insurance will take care of them. Unfortunately, this is not true in most cases. Having your own long-term health care insurance will allow you to be personally independent, maintain your quality of life, keep such assets as your home and estate, retain your business and personal property, and choose the right long-term health care facilities.
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)
The HMO is a managed health care program. For many it is an excellent source of medical care that is very cost effective. It is especially good for young families who need many checkups and immunizations. The HMO provides comprehensive medical coverage at a fixed prepaid fee. Usually operated by private non-sector corporations and even non-profit organizations, the HMO is well-liked by employers because it is relatively inexpensive. While touted by many as the answer to health care, the HMO has both advantages and disadvantages. See Chart B, "HMO Advantages & Disadvantages."
The Kingdom Law of Use states: "If you don’t use it, you lose it!" This law is especially applicable in the matter of aging. Many people associate aging with mental and physical decline. But dulling of the mind is not inevitable with age, and many of the physical ailments suffered in old age can be avoided altogether. Doctors and psychologists agree that a rigid, uncompromising attitude is one of the major causes of decline. "Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble" (Prov. 28:14). An unstimulating life caused in part by noninvolvement with others is another important factor. Even though time marches on, it does not have to devastate you. The following tips are for anyone who wants to stay healthy in mind and body.
Become involved in your church; teach a class. "He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them" (Ps. 78:5-6).
Share your home with a missionary on furlough. "May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains" (2 Tim. 1:16).
If your health is good, go on a short-term mission trip. "I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Josh. 14:11).
Share your home with a foreign exchange student. "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Heb. 13:2).
Invite a college student home for the holidays. "God sets the lonely in families" (Ps. 68:6).
Get together with friends regularly; begin a Bible study group. "Greet also the church that meets at their house" (Rom. 16:5).
Take up gardening. "I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them" (Eccl. 2:5).
Join a senior citizen’s group. ". . . so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:15).
Get a pet. "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you" (Job 12:7).
Get involved in political or community action. "The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Rom. 13:1).
Take classes such as cake decorating or car repair. "Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning" (Prov. 9:9).
Find those less fortunate than you and bless them with a gift—food, clothing, or money. "(They) were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem" (Rom. 15:26).
Adopt a one-parent child in your neighborhood. "Look after orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27).
Visit nursing home residents: read to them, lead them in singing, or just talk with them. "They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright’" (Ps. 92:14-15).
Get plenty of exercise. "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training" (1 Cor. 9:25).
Learn to face your troubles cheerfully. "A happy heart makes the face cheerful" (Prov. 15:13).
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Preventing illness by maintaining your health is your best insurance. It works much like compound interest—the earlier you start the better. But it is never too late. Two areas to watch particularly are your level of cholesterol and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Have your cholesterol level checked at a standardized testing unit. Be certain that the one who tests you is a trained technologist. Various procedures can alter the validity of the test. For example, squeezing your finger distorts the test. Before testing, sit down for at least seven to ten minutes. Take another test one month later, and if your cholesterol level is still over 200, consult your doctor. Have the doctor check for HDL and LDL. High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) are good and actually clear the bloodstream and arterial walls of unneeded cholesterol. Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) are dangerous because they carry the cholesterol to the cells, dumping the excess onto the arterial walls.
Follow your doctor’s directions to lower your level of LDL.
Post-menopausal women are more prone to fractures of the hips, wrists, and spine, and to the loss of bone density. This condition, called osteoporosis, leads to diminished height. Certain groups of women run a greater risk. Women who are small-boned, fair-complexioned, over forty, have experienced early menopause, and have a family history of osteoporosis are especially vulnerable. But the risk of osteoporosis can be reduced.
First and foremost, your daily diet should include plenty of calcium (800 milligrams for women nineteen and older and 1000 to 1500 milligrams for post-menopausal women). The richest sources of calcium are milk and dairy foods. (For those with a lactose intolerance, consult your physician, who may suggest calcium supplements.) Be sure to include leafy green vegetables and plenty of fiber in your diet. Avoiding red meat, salt, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco will decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis. Exercise such as walking is good for you, and weight-bearing exercises actually build bone density.