Where theres smoke…

Re-watching Escape Fire has triggered the cascade of emotional reaction it initially did in me, with the resolve to apply it even more into my life. Considering that my total time in and around the healthcare system is approaching 30 years, one might suspect a certain degree of comprehension and expertise to follow. What I have painfully come to realize is there is so much more to the old adage “Practice what you preach” than most are willing to admit. This, of course, includes me. When you have an opportunity, and if you have ever found yourself asking one or both of two questions (Why are things this way? Is there a better way to do things?), please take 90 minutes and watch this documentary.

Without going into a litany of statistics, I will focus on a just a few of my favorite statements throughout the program. The first and most important to me is a comment from Senator Ron Wyden on the overall nature of change in human behavior. He said in part, “People, so to speak, have a constitutional right to be foolish … we have to respect that.” Steve Burd, CEO of Safeway, said, “70% of health care costs are driven by people’s behaviors.”  A statement in the opening comment by Dr. Don Berwick, former head of Medicare and Medicaid from 2010-2011, “They can’t give up their old habits,” speaks to me personally. The light came on even brighter than the first time I viewed the show. Finally, I’ll end my review with words from Dr. Andrew Weil: “We don’t have a healthcare system in the country; we have a disease management system.” Adding some numerical facts like “$300 Billion per year on drugs” and “30% of healthcare spending (roughly $750 Billion annually) is wasted and does not improve health (Institute of Medicine 2011), makes me wonder how end-of-life care planning fits into the plan for improved disease prevention.  For me, end-of-life planning could be another “escape fire” added to the disease prevention that the show recommends and from which it highlights successes.

We have an expectation that we all are individually “accountable” for ourselves in this country. But, it seems to me that there are many people who would rather shift responsibility for their end-of-life management onto unsuspecting family, friends, doctors, and/or other institutions. In other words, prevention of disease is not the only concern having an impact on the available medical resources currently being taxed beyond limits. Having no plan or an outdated plan for your care can also burden the system which has proven to be stretched beyond its limits today.

Simple choices can be powerful. And the most basic of all choices are how you want to feel. No one wants to be in pain, stressed, or exhausted. With that in mind, what were to happen to you, your family, or your support system of medical, financial, emotional, and spiritual designees in the face of dramatic change?

Caring Choices has seen the smoke, and can recognize that a fire could start at any moment for any one of us. Prevent the catastrophic consequence of doubt from falling on the unprepared. Make the most of the proven impact of changed behavior to strengthen your health as well as the relationships with your family and friends.  You CAN talk about this. Let’s talk.

© Caring Choices 2014