As we become Seasoned Citizens, whole new vistas open up to us. We were expecting “golden years” and find instead “rusty years.” Every ache and pain becomes exacerbated and we begin to feel less capable and more vulnerable. Many doctors take advantage of Seasoned Citizens and prescribe numerous tests, mostly electronic, to eliminate the possibility of certain diseases and protect themselves from lawsuits. We are, unfortunately, a litigious society, so we must understand the doctors’ dilemma. If they overlook something, they can be sued, so better to test for everything, collect the fee and keep out of court. 

As Seasoned Citizens, we must take more responsibility for our own health and determine how far we allow the medical professionals to push us. In our younger years we’d laugh off this pain or that ache. Today, we are frightened because of age and the easily accessible internet to ascribe the worst possible meanings to new health challenges or changes. 

The credo I followed when I was younger was this: If “it” lasted more than a week, I’d consider asking our family doctor whether I needed help. Things were simpler then. Your general practitioner would examine you and do his best to help. Now we have physicians who specialize in “small finger right hand!” This is both good and bad. Good because specialists are supposed to know more about a specific body part and bad because we then need to see numerous professionals who usually find something to test us for and sometimes the tests themselves can be counterproductive. Whatever happened to “let’s wait and see?”

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Having a science background myself, I admire all of the new and wonderful sources available to us. Let’s not forget, though, that probably the most important reasons for longevity were the discovery that soap and water, used diligently and often, plus not throwing garbage on to the streets, protected us from succumbing to “bad bugs,” later known as germs.  I hope that in the future doctors will be trained to do more listening and less testing unless absolutely necessary.

Most people know their bodies better than any machine or attending physician could. If doctors would take the time to talk to us instead of looking us up on their computers, they might even save more lives and make living with unsolvable problems easier and more palatable. We do this for the dying; why not for the living?

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