The grim reality is that our population is aging and this is always a factor in health care costs.  All the technological advances and health care innovations keep us living longer and longer while managing chronic conditions that would have resulted in death not that long ago.

Related: How mobile technology can improve your health

When all you have to do to get medical care in this country is show your health care card, the actual costs can easily be ignored.  How much does our health care cost us in taxpayer dollars?  70 percent of spending is taken care of by provincial and territorial governments.

According to the Globe and Mail, health care spending was forecasted to reach $211 billion in 2013.

The majority of public funding goes to hospitals.  Surprisingly, only six percent is allocated to drugs/medications even though, according to the National Post, “Canadians pay some of the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world.”

There is always talk of health care reform to reduce future costs – more efficient use of facilities and staff, more generic drugs, and increasingly adopting user pay systems.  But, one of the best ways to reduce your personal health care costs is to take responsibility for your own health.  Even those with genetic predisposition to various illnesses and disabilities can find some relief.

Related: Caring for elderly parents

Boomers will remember growing up with:

  • No seat belts strapping us in the family car.
  • No requirements for bike helmets and knee and elbow pads.
  • The family doctor blowing cigarette smoke in our faces during a routine physical.
  • Chewing on toys painted with lead paint.
  • Dolls and bears with glass eyes and tiny accessories.
  • Asbestos in the walls.
  • Did your parents have trendy fiberglass drapes?
  • Slingshots and peashooters, and bows and arrows with real metal tips.

We’ve made it this far in one piece, now it’s up to us to take it a step further.

Healthy habits

Aging can bring anxiety and fear of declining health and/or disability largely stemming from myths that are exaggerated by the media.

  • How will I care for myself?
  • What if I lose my spouse?
  • What will happen to my mind?
  • Will I be able to pay for medications and care?

While some diseases do become more common, getting older doesn’t automatically mean poor health.  Plenty of older adults enjoy vigorous health well into their 90’s.

Related: The impact of retiring baby boomers on health care

Positive measures such as healthy eating – most of the time – staying physically and socially active, and managing stress can help you cope with change and reduce health risks.  Smoking and obesity are leading causes of chronic conditions.

Many adults don’t exercise as they get older and tend to be overly sedentary.  Check with your doctor and then find an activity that motivates you to continue.

Exercise can maintain your strength and agility, and even diminish chronic pain.  Loss of balance is the main cause of falling that can result in serious injuries to hips, wrists and spine.  Recovery times can often take several months and you may never become fully rehabilitated.

Memory loss is not an inevitable part of aging.  Maybe you don’t remember things as easily any more, but doing some sort of brain training and learning new things can keep your mind sharp.

Final thoughts

You’ve been diligent in socking away money for your golden years.  Make sure you follow the formula for staying healthy as well, so you’re not just surviving – you’re making these years the best moments of your life.

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