By Aryn Gabai, DC, CACCP
The time of year is upon us when families are celebrating the accomplishments of some of our most cherished people- our kids. Every year we consider how we can celebrate the fact that many of our students are ending important phases of their careers by graduating high school and college. This year we want to offer a unique gift for grads and their parents to fill a void in these young adults’ education and preparation.
Let’s talk about how we make our healthcare choices. Many different conversations are happening simultaneously, including where to move, jobs, money, living with roommates, how to deal with social and peer pressures, and others. What about how we use doctors, medicines and hospitals?
I walked into this conversation blindly myself. When I went into undergraduate school, I was confident in my health, having grown up in a chiropractic household and feeling strong in my ability to know my own body. What followed were the worst four years in my health in all of my life. Despite all of the “knowing” I possessed, I had yet to understand the two major pathways of healthcare.
First, Emergency Care. This is exactly as it sounds, when there is a crisis, someone alleviates the immediate pressure. Whether that pressure is a massive intestinal infection (salmonella in my case), headaches that keep you up at night, or any of the other major issues. Options for these cases range from urgent care clinics and hospitals to health centers, to even chiropractors when appropriate.
What’s missing most is what comes second, and that is Empowering Care. What do you do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to keep your body functioning at a high level? Exercise is key. Nutrition is key. Proper spinal function is critical. So is proper detoxifying, as many young people take this time to try their hand in many different chemical imbalances.
Here’s the issue: when we address every health issue as if it is an emergency, then we go from one crisis to the next without getting smarter, stronger or healthier. Who would advocate for their child or student to wait until there are almost failing a class to start studying? Who would want their child to only learn how to address their health once it is failing?
This gets even more important to discuss with young people because the vast majority of kids never choose a doctor. They don’t know how to distinguish good medical advice from a quick prescription form. What should they look for when they speak with a healthcare professional, and when should they start looking to make these connections?
By missing these conversations in preparing our kids, two things happen: One, when young people start becoming independent, they start creating major health imbalances that may take years to correct (if at all). Two, they learn to use healthcare resources in such a way that may take years and/or decades to balance into a more sustainable, health supporting role. How long did it take you to find chiropractic care? Or to learn the value of proper nutrition, regular exercise, massage, acupuncture, etc.? Do we want our kids to have to be broken down to climb back up these mountains?
I said “let’s talk about healthcare choices” because this is an evolving conversation. Talk to your kids about how they keep their health, about who they should connect to when moving to a new area, and you can support them without interviewing every doctor before they go. Also, ask us questions about how we can help support you and your families. We want to be a source of great healthcare for our whole community, and that includes the loved ones moving into their independence. How do you teach someone the invaluable gift of health? Do you teach it to your family?