As a traveling doctor in California, I visit up to 8 Medicare patients a day in their homes to do a complete medical history and physical exam and write a complete medical report for each patient. Every morning, I’m given 8 names with 8 addresses at 8 different appointment times. Like playing treasure hunt, I use my GPS to drive to these places to find these patients I’ve never met before wearing my white coat and stethoscope and bringing my medicine man goodie bag.
Every time I meet a new patient and sit down to talk to them for about an hour about their entire medical history and life, I feel fascinated by the different stories I hear. By interacting with various patients and their families mostly over 65years old, I’ve learned a couple of great lessons in life.
1. It is the mindset that determines how healthy and wealthy one lives.
I guess no one has control over what parents they are born from and what kind of genes they are given but how they turn out to live after 50years old has everything to do with their thoughts and attitudes towards life which most people don’t realize they have so much control over. I’ve been to places where a patient is living like a king in a mansion surrounded by supportive family still playing golf and softball way into their late 70s or mid 80s. They talk about how they enjoy going out to lunch with friends and visiting vacation homes in Hawaii or painting with passion as a second career. They have health issues that are under control because they have the means to get the best medicine and doctors to help them. They radiate joy and a can-do attitude.
On the other hand, I’ve been to homes of patients who live in crummy senior low income housing or trailers that are so dirty and smelling full of cigarette stench. These people talk about how they once had it all with a big house and job but then one day lost them all after a major accident or death of the spouse or making bad choices investing in the wrong stocks. And now they barely scrape by living in places they hate on a small monthly social security check. They have multiple medical problems like COPD, chronic pain, Diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, Cancer and are on at least ten different medications which many times they can’t afford. Many of them are disabled from the illnesses or injury being bed-bound or wheelchair-bound. They feel depressed and discouraged and helpless in their situation feeling like victims blaming their ex-spouses or the government.
2. It’s important not to work so hard but to work smart while one is young and active.
I’ve seen so many patients with chronic pain relying on a cane or walker because they hurt themselves working so hard in construction or in healthcare while they were young. They pushed too hard beyond their physical limits, got severely injured and disabled and they are spending the rest of their life inactive sitting in a chair or being in bed all day long without much hope to get any better. They’ve gotten used to relying on pain killers and staying half awake all the time. Since they lost their ability to work physically, they have no income other than social security checks. It’s really sad.
Those who do much better are people who owned businesses and property that keep providing them with passive income even while they are not working physically. They were able to relax more and take better care of themselves so even in their 80s, they can still walk, work out at the gym and drive and actively participate in life.
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