Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wellness at Work (2) for an Aging Population




Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.  ~World Health Organization, 1948

In talking with employers and recruiters, they confirm my conviction that the problem with getting offered a job after age 50 is not necessarily about age discrimination. Indeed, the merits of hiring an older worker are well documented.  The older we get the more wisdom we possess.  The elders have made more mistakes than their younger counterparts and generally we do eventually learn from our mistakes.  While formal education is a plus, most will agree that it is experience that truly teaches us about our chosen fields of endeavor. As a group the old folks are less likely to take off time to raise a family or recovery from late night revelry.  If we look at generational studies we get generalization about work ethic that appears to have some validity.

“The Matures, for instance, grew up in the midst of war-time shortages and economic depression. They have always worked hard and paid their dues simply as a means for survival. Even in better times, they have continued these ways simply because this is the ethic with which they feel most comfortable.
Baby Boomers came of age in the midst of tremendous economic expansion, learning to use all the convenience-oriented products that came on the market during their youth. Because of the size of their generation, they were also the focus of everyone’s attention. Boomers have always put in long hours because of how closely they associate their occupation with their identity. Even as they edge into retirement, we predict that most of them will still live to work.
Having watched their parents, the Baby Boomers, put in these long hours, those in Generation X have developed a different perspective on work. They do not necessarily equate hard work and long hours. Instead, they look for ways to work smarter, resulting in fewer hours but greater output. This is the reason why Boomers and Matures sometimes accuse those in Generation X of “punching the clock.”
The Millennials have come of age in an era of technology and convenience. Many of them honestly wonder why machines don’t do many of the mundane tasks they are asked to perform in entry-level positions. They have been heavily influenced to believe that every job should match the same level of stimulation they receive from a video game. As this generation matures into the workforce, some of these perceptions will change. But this group will also alter society’s interpretation of work ethic as they go.”  Work Ethic-Different Generations

One argument that favors the young is their employment competitiveness when the job asks for physical exertion. We all know that as we age our body’s ability to perform lessons.  So I argue that the discrimination is not about age as much as it is about the perceived health of the individual job seeker.  Those that appear vibrant have little difficulty getting hired while those that appear unhealthy are perceived as too great a risk.

Unfortunately,  too many of us follow a western medical model that some feel is suspect.
“This fully referenced report shows the number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs to be 2.2 million per year. The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million per year. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million per year. The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year, at a cost of $282 billion dollars! It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US.”  Death by Medicine

I doubt that Hippocrates, father of western medicine, would be an advocate of  the pharmaceutical approach so prevalent in our current western medical thinking. He may have been on target when he said, “ Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” I do have a medical doctor in my cadre of health professionals, primarily because they are quite useful when a severe emergency impairs the natural ability of the body to heal itself.  I really was thankful for the pain killers when I broke my ribs last year.  However, I have little faith in their ability to fight disease.  Those that use drugs to suppress symptoms are not using a holistic approach.   

Hippocrates also supposedly said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  Unfortunately, the food industry in the United States is questionable according to the documentary, Food Inc.  It explores where our food comes from and exposes the “secrets” the giant food corporations do not want revealed to the public.  Among other things the documentary states that because fast food restaurants are the greatest consumers of beef, chicken and even many vegetables, the current food industry caters to their needs.  Supersize Me is a disturbing film about a very healthy man who decides to go on a diet of ONLY food from McDonalds for a month. His primary physician monitors the deterioration of his health and far before the end, advises the young man that if he does not stop he is seriously risking his life. In contrast, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead  is a heart warming documentary about obese men who turn their life around by going on a juice diet.  If you have not seen these films, watch them. 

The way you think, the way you behave, the way you eat, can influence your life by 30 to 50 years.~ Deepak Chopra

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wellness at Work

Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.    ~ Morning Dove   Salish  1888-1936

Not too far back I counseled a man who was complaining about age discrimination. While it is true that if the person interviewing me is 35 or 40, at 65 I am old.  Most people in positions to make decisions however, especially for higher paying jobs, are a lot closer to my age.  With the baby boom and older such a large percentage of the population I do not believe age is nearly as important as health. The man complaining looked much older than his 50 years and far from healthy. I believe people who are vibrant and exude a healthy demeanor are competitive in the workplace, regardless of actual age. 
As I grow older thoughts about health have entered my consciousness more frequently.  Clearly with the passing of time I am aware that my body does not possess the same resiliency of earlier days.  My research on wellness has increased dramatically. My approach is holistic, believing there is an interplay of body, mind and spirit. 

The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word, and behavior affects our greater health and well being. And we, in turn, are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.     ~ Greg Anderson (American Wellness Project)

Spirit is about our belief system, whether or not we believe in a higher power or how we answer questions about the meaning of the universe.  Personally,  I feel most comfortable believing we are in a universe of living interconnected energies. Some of you have experienced my attempts at Qi Gong and guided meditations in wellness workshop presentations.   I have studied many religious traditions over the years. I have  often found  many similarities and slightly different ways of saying the same things.  I have referred to the  "God Consciousness of the Universe”  while saying grace before meals, even though I am not completely certain as to what that means.  I see the yearly cycle of my garden. In spring there is a sprouting of new life, renewal and new growth.  The warm summer days allows plants to grow big and strong.  The shortened days of Fall bring harvest.  Then winter comes and it seems as if everything falls into a deep sleep.   I wonder if this is a pattern that can be applied to a human life. Personally I feel comfortable with the concept of the soul taking a physical vehicle to learn lesson on planet earth. I want to believe the soul continues to evolve in eternity, but just in case I am doing my best to make this life the best it can possibly be.  I truly believe there is power in prayer or positive affirmations, whichever you prefer.
I am an optimist and have no difficulty showering myself with positive affirmations.  Remaining in the present is not difficult for me.   I think Sidney Marshall Jourard said it well:

  Healthy personality is manifested by individuals who have been able to gratify their basic needs through acceptable behavior such that their own personality is no longer a problem to their self. They can take their self more or less for granted and devote energies  and thoughts to socially meaningful interests and problems beyond security or lovability or status.

So often I have expressed that there is just one model of each of us in the universe. When we learn to love that person unconditionally, we are then able to learn to love all other life forms unconditionally. 
The physical realm has called for more of my attention lately.   The ease of getting enough exercise in youth  has been replaced by  challenge.  The American Council on Exercise  says I have to “pump the heart” at  minimum for 20 minutes three times a week and if I do not lift weights I am going to lose muscle mass.    If you know me, you know I have been an organic gardener for decades.   There is no doubt in my mind that the type of fuel we use does determine how well our body functions.  Watching the documentary films “Food Matters ” and "Hungry for Change” strengthened my convictions.  
Employment Counseling is far more than helping someone find a job. I am blessed with a fine education and so are you.  I think our job is to help people get on a path to their true destiny or at least moving in that direction. When we are on a wrong path we know it. When we are on a right path we also know it. The universe and our bodies do not lie. Yes there are many illusions, but an educated mind has the ability to discern the truth. Thank you for being a member of our association. There is strength in numbers and ours is a very noble profession. Helping some find truly worthwhile employment is very, very healthy for everyone. Remember always that you are in a healing occupation and you are a gift to this universe. Be well my dear colleagues.

I am alone in nothing. Everything I think or say or do teaches the universe. ~
  W. 87  A Course in Miracles