Friday, April 20, 2012

Maintenence, Prevention, or Wellness, Which Do You Want?

Wellness is the biggest buzz word on the health care front these days.  You read about it in the newspaper and online, you hear about it on commercials, you see websites developed all around the word.  Many times it is intermingled with the other two concepts listed in the title:  Prevention and maintenance.  It can be a bit confusing for people I am sure, and I think there are some significant differences between the three and I hope to delineate those here now.

The term maintenance is used a lot of times for health care purposes, even or especially in my line of work.  Some people like to come in for regular adjustments and what they call maintenance.  This is not a bad thing to try to maintain one’s self in general, unless of course you have a chronic or acute illness.  If you have high blood pressure, do you want to maintain it?   If your cholesterol or blood sugar level is out of the good range, do you want to maintain that?  No of course not.  But the idea of maintenance is used sometimes in conjunction with wellness and I just pointed out a glaring problem with that.  Maintenance is not wellness, it is keeping you right where you are, and most of us, me included, don’t need to stay right where we are.  We NEED to improve some, or all of our health.

Now, what about prevention?  The idea of preventative care is almost synonymous with wellness care in many circles.  I would strongly object to the linking of these two words.  If you have reached a certain age, and the stats say you need to have “x” test done regularly (mammograms, prostate exams, a certain blood test or the dreaded colonoscopy etc.) and the test comes back positive, then that means you have a disease process starting, it means you are not well.  Naturally that can NOT be wellness or wellness care since the purpose of the test is to find out if you’re ill or not.  Again, that does NOT mean these tests are a bad thing, in fact they are much needed oftentimes.  So don’t hear me knocking running the tests, and please don’t stop getting tested appropriately.  

Now, on to the topic at hand:  wellness.  The word is used in so many ways, some places call themselves wellness centers and they are doing botox injections.  How is that wellness?  Does it make a person any healthier?  Of course not.  Wellness is a word that implies action and responsibility.  Wellness to me should be defined as experiencing optimum health in all aspects of one’s life, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, relationally etc.  It is something that I believe few, if any, attain for any great length of time, but it is a worthy goal to be striving for but it’s also something that takes constant attention and tweaking.  It should be an ongoing process where we are continually striving for optimum health. 

Can the pursuit of wellness include some maintenance care?  Yes.  Can it include getting blood pressure tested?  Yes.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Those two things are passive, in that the test or care is performed on us.  Wellness should require active involvement that we as individuals are responsible for doing like exercising, relaxing, learning to eat better and proper rest.  That is what we try to inspire at our office, people taking responsibility for where they are on the wellness spectrum, then learning and acting upon information that can move them forward and closer to true wellness.

So in summary, maintenance care and preventative care are passive things that happen TO us.  Wellness is something we PURSUE via our lifestyle choices, and it’s the way to optimum health and well-being. So with that in mind, take charge of where you are, decide where you want to be, and then take appropriate action steps to get there.  Where you are is only temporary if you decide to make it temporary.  Give us a call, we’d be glad to help you move forward in your pursuit of wellness!

Until next time… Be Well!

Dr. Bruce