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