Global Disease burden has reached an all-time high. Mainstream medicine claims we're living longer, with more medical technology and better pharmaceutical intervention than ever before. But at what cost? Decades of US health data have revealed that we are spending most of our elder years in poor health and disability.
The rise in life expectancy at birth rose by a few years for both men and women in the last two decades of the 20th century. This has come at an enormous cost in the quality of life of our elders, for they are suffering with more pain and greater disability than ever before in last 15 years of life. People globally are living longer but chronic debilitating conditions are becoming more prevalent.
Life expectancy for women in the US is 81, five years more than for men. It has however been climbing for both genders: in 1995, women and men were expected to live to 79 and 73, respectively.
But the figures show a worrying trend where our health in which we spend our lengthening old age seems to have stopped improving since 2000. Women now account for 57 per cent of US citizens aged over 65, but 68 per cent of those who need daily assistance in their lives.
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 involved 486 authors in 50 countries who aimed to offer a comprehensive update on diseases and injuries since the last such report in 1990. It found the leading risk factor accounting for the disease burden in most developed nations is diet.
Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% percent of the burden of illness and 90% of all healthcare costs. It also accounts for eight of the nine leading categories of death. However, there is no money in prevention, only sickness. So our state of health will only get worse before it gets better, and it will only get better once the old paradigm of conventional medicine in treating symptoms rather begins to realize that the root causes of illness addresses all disease.
Women In Worse Shape Than Men
In the 1980s and 1990s, improvements to medical care delayed the diseases of old age even more than they delayed death, effectively compressing the time old people spent in ill health. But Vicki Freedman and her colleagues at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, have found that the average health of older men continued to improve after 2000, whereas that of older women did not.
Examining 30 years of health surveys, the team found that 85-year-old men can now expect to have an average of four more years of active, relatively healthy life — up from an average of just two and a half in 1982.
But in women there has been no change. Just as in 1982, 85-year-old women today can only expect to have another two and a half years of active life. This means that although they are likely to continue living for longer than men of the same age, they spend less of that time in good health.
Medication Is A Problem
Elderly persons are apt to receive multiple drugs for many diseases. Yet prescribers do not take extra care in persons aged over 65-70 years, and especially the very old.
The main problem of the elderly is the unpredictability of their response to drugs. Self-medication with both prescribed and over-the-counter drugs worsens this problem. Drug actions may be altered by impairment of the liver, kidneys and brain, or acute illness, or both. Unwanted (adverse) drug reactions often produce rapid and unduly severe illness in the old.
Drugs with a narrow therapeutic ratio, such as warfarin, digoxin, the aminoglycosides, and many antiarrhythmic drugs, cause clinical problems. Old persons respond more abruptly to drugs like benzodiazepines, opioid analgesics, and antiparkinsonian drugs. Anaesthesia given on top of psychotropic drugs may damage the central nervous system. The elderly brain is more sensitive to induction agents and short-acting intravenous anaesthetics, like alfentanil and midazolam; the elderly liver is more easily damaged by inhalational anaesthetics like halothane. The overall benefit:risk ratio should be judged for every drug in each patient. Wherever possible, drug treatment should be avoided.
Many combinations of natural products are as effective as man-made drugs, but without the side effects when acting against specific diseases. For empirical evidence, look no further than the indigenous tribes and cultures which still use many formulations pre-dating the historical record and with great success. A comprehensive study and first of its kind published in PLoS One assessed 124 natural product combinations and found that in the right combinations, they can match drug level potency.
Plants are better than drugs on many levels. Specific herbs, fruits and vegetables have been found on many instances to work better than medication for specific diseases. For example, Soursop Fruit has been found to kill cancer up to 10,000 times more effectively than strong chemotherapy. Consuming apples daily has been found in some studies to be more effective than statin medications at reducing heart disease.Cranberry juice, garlic and turmeric are just three of dozens of other foods which beat drugs in treating and preventing disease.
There are herbs that boost and heal the lungs, others which increaseenergy and vitality, many that stabilize the thyroid and even lower blood pressure.
Despite the medical model which relies on pharmaceutical intervention for every known illness, there are well over one hundred common diseases that can be reversed naturally. That's the difference between treatment for profit and healing for wellness. Arthritis (both rheumatoid and osteo) diabetes (both Type I and Type II), hypertension and cancer are all reversible with proper herbal strategies, nutrition and exercise.
Quality, Not Just Quantity
Between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s aging population over 60 years will nearly double, from 12% to 22%.
Approximately 25% of adults aged 60 and over suffer from a mental disorder and that is increasingly exponentially after each decade that passes.
“Older women can no longer expect to live more active years than older men, despite their longer lives,” says Freedman.
Women are also more prone to ageing-associated conditions such as arthritis, depression, brittle bones and dementia. Similar trends seem to be occurring in Europe and Japan.
Freedman's team is calling for more of a focus on adding quality, not just quantity, to our final years, especially with the number of aged baby boomers — and the bills for looking after them — set to soar.