How pertinent is it know about the exact way you’re going to die, if it’s inevitable anyway? Some cultures find that telling you these *minor* details may not be the most necessary thing, and that’s just the way it plays out, living your life out in the form of a cancer-ridden body while you don’t know what exactly is going on. People take care of you, and you know you’re sick, and yet even you accept that no one is going to say anything about the matter. I’m not sure if telling my grandmother was the right thing to do, nor does it matter anymore, but how would it have changed things? Is it right to withhold this kind of information from someone, or better yet, if someone came up to you and described the way you were ultimately going to die would you want them to tell you? It’s the same thing…right?
Healthcare is more than just the glamour of being a doctor or nurse, more than taking care of those around you and providing a source of treatment for your serious, and not so serious, problems. It’s a growing ecosystem of variables, summating the people who control the healthcare system with those who are in it to create order (hopefully) in our lives. Being a part of this sociology class has demonstrated that although the balance in this system may depend on the unstable fastenings of the government, pharmaceutical companies, and sick population, it inevitably will always provide a method for getting better one way or another.
Analyzing healthcare as a whole is valuable in that we can agree how it should benefit our daily lives and the ultimate goal which it looks to accomplish, yet putting a spotlight on individual societies and their own variations of healthcare certainly goes to show that there isn’t one system that works the best for everyone. Having learned the minute details of the concept of healthcare, I can say that I’ve gotten a better understanding of it’s role in our lives and am better able to apply that knowledge to everyday use.
I believe that in one of my first process reflections I talked about how futile the healthcare system looked, in that no solution seemed to really be all-encompassing, with the result that there would be no clear-cut way of helping everyone. While the remaining part of this class hasn’t really shown me the best way to fix these issues, it certainly has provided many outlets and at least given this ecosystem the chance to become more stable and provide for more of its organisms, if you will.
This past week in class, we’ve finally come to what seems the perfect ending of such a class, looking at the care of those who are elderly or coming to the end of the their life. And yet, similar to many other age groups there appears to be a plethora of issues that are involved in this group as well. So considering the breadth of the issues we’ve discussed in this class, who deserves the most help? Is it those who are less affluent since they seem to be at a disadvantage compared to those who are able to receive more benefits based on their income? Or rather should we help the elderly since their age is also coupled to a need for stability, which inevitably needs some care? Should the government help anyone at all? Maybe a better question to consider is what can we do that will help the most amount of people in the long run? No answer is really the right one to any of these, yet the matter can’t be left unresolved.
In class today we took a look at the village community around the US, analyzing how such grassroot solutions seem to be the answer to the need in old age care. I find it interesting to see that the older community also takes a look at their own situation and is trying to find a way to create new ways to take care of themselves, without the help of their children, utilizing the community around them instead of going somewhere designed for this type of care since it may be expensive.
Given that these ideas are not that hard to put together, why does the government not support this movement and even help provide a little push to help get them started? It seems as though it would greatly reduce the strain put on taking care of the elderly, as well as build community interaction…which is never a bad thing!
Although it is certain that we refer to our doctors for most of our medical concerns and knowledge, there are those who find it necessary to self-diagnose before even reaching the doctor’s office. Yet when we come across something so simple as blood pressure, it’s appalling how variant it can be, depending on time of the day, food intake, or even your posture. In the article “Blood Pressure, a Reading with a Habit of Straying”, Kolata takes a look at how taking your own blood pressure may land you in the doctor’s office for the wrong reasons.
Have you ever wondered what exactly the doctor is listening for when they put the cuff around your arms and slowly deflate? All it produces is two simple numbers, and yet this may not be providing the whole story. Kolata explains how “blood pressure measured in the doctor’s office can be wrong about half the time.” While this is not necessarily the doctor’s fault (in fact it’s more likely to based a myriad of other factors), it certainly does change the perspective on such diagnoses as high blood pressure. Yet an abundant number of Americans must come to terms with their diagnosis or even take medication for it.
Considering there are more accurate ways to measure your blood pressure, why do we still resort to the same old methods that doctors have been using for years? And is it necessarily beneficial to have patients take their own blood pressure at home, when it’s even less likely that these will be accurate? Kolata also claims “it turns out that blood pressure can jump around a lot – as much as 40 points in one day in my case – which raises the question of which reading to trust.”
I find this article relates nicely to a few of the discussions that we’ve had in class and in discussion about how much authority we put in the hands of the patients for their own healthcare. Although we would all like to feel empowered and control the way our bodies function, it may not necessarily be pertinent to mull over every little function of our body. The more that we informed about our natural systems, the better we can make our health care decisions and solve our physical troubles.
Jeremy Groopman takes on a growing concern in today’s healthcare society. In his excerpt How Doctors Think, he analyzes the doctor patient relationship and the effect that this might have on patient treatment. It’s important here to note that the job a doctor must accomplish is healing their patients. Many will also argue that it is their responsibility to make a patient feel more comfortable in the doctor’s office, which involves actually touching the patient during their visit. Many reports come that demonstrate this occurs less and less in the doctor’s office. Now here’s the issue, why is this even a discussion? Of course a doctor should be touching their patient. Diagnosing an illness comes from more than just looking at someone and determining what might be ailing them. If all diseases had some sort of tell-tale sign then maybe this might not result in such a surprising practice but inevitably they do not. So how can we resolve the issue?
Now here’s an idea. You walk into a doctor’s office and check in as you would usually. Now instead of sitting and waiting for the doctor for fifteen minutes or so, you sit in front of a little computer and take a little survey, similar to the same questions that a doctor initially asks you when he or she first comes in. This information can then be relayed to the doctor who no longer has to spend time asking routine questions but can then focus more on the patient and treating them. Some might say this takes away from the doctor-patient relationship and simply introduces more computers in a society that is already robot heavy, but consider this. Instead of the doctor asking you what hurts, he asks why it hurts. Instead of asking about your day, he can ask about your week or your month. Just a thought.
I’ve always found it interesting that there have been various solutions to many of our society’s issues, yet implementing these ideas seems to be a far greater issue. Since this process reflection wasn’t required, I really only want to reflect on one thing. How long will it be until these problems get fixed?…or will they ever fixed? It would not surprise me if new issues continuously kept arising, preventing the American population from firmly establishing a sound healthcare system that provided the necessary care for everyone that lived in the US. However, if anything is certain, there will no solution without a little optimism.
In the article “Death rates, declining for decades, have flattened, study finds”, Tavernise takes a look at how the death rate, although it has grown over the past years, seems to be slowing down and even finding it’s peak. However John Haaga believes that “the US has a lot of room for improvement.” Considering the fact that there are other countries in the world that seem to have better percentages when it comes to death rates, he evidently seems to be right, but at what point will the death toll simply stay at the same rate? This article also made me consider the average life expectancy in the US and other countries around the world.
This article seemed especially interesting because it takes a look at a varying group of people, instead of singling out a few minorities, and analyzes how we interpret our healthcare statistics. The most interesting part, to me, is where do we stop looking at what we can do better and simply realize that there will be a time where we won’t be able to improve on our life expectancy anymore, or lower the death rate. However, the article also explains that this trend is not uncommon, considering the various diseases and illnesses that have plagued, or continue to plague, the population. One such example is diabetes, which is claimed to be “afflicting younger generations in a way that will eventually make the numbers worse.” It’s apparent that even with all these advancements, there will always be some illness, or some obstacle, that will balance out the numbers.
I believe that Professor Olshansky put it best in the article, that the “medical community seems to be under a fog that we can constantly and forever reduce death rates, and that’s simply not true.” Although this may not be that hard to grasp, the only question left to ask is when does it not become feasible to lower the death rate, and how does that affect the human population as a whole? Research shows that the latter part of our older years is spent disease ridden. So the question that might really need answering is how old is too old?
In referencing “Social Conditions as Fundamental Causes of Health Inequalities: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications”, by Phelan et al., it’s apparent the link between socioeconomic status and conditions. Bernie Sanders goes on to reiterate that the US is the only industrialized country that does not provide universal healthcare. What is holding the US back? Opposition can be found from anywhere when such an idea is proposed, considering the implications it has for big businesses (or even small businesses). One such argument is the reduction of the US to a more socialist idealism. I’m not quite sure where the fear of this concept came from, potentially from its link to communism, and yet it’s incredibly misused and misunderstood. So lets look at some socialist implications in the US:
these are just to name a few of the socialist run programs in the US, considering they are funded by taxpayer’s dollars. So what exactly are we afraid of? Becoming MORE socialist? Consider also that the FBI and CIA are taxpayer funded. The only place we go wrong is healthcare. So we can just as easily pay for most of the things that we use everyday, and yet when it comes to our health, America no longer seems to care
Sitting in on class, listening in discussion and hearing what others have had to say has really only taught me one thing. The health care system is too large of a problem to fix. It doesn’t seem like anybody has the solution and even if they did, there will always be others who will oppose it. With fifty states to deal with, an economy that fails to compare to other world leaders and health care that seems to cause more problems than it fixes, a solution really does not seem to be in sight.
And yet the US is looking at other healthcare systems in order to fix it’s own, which makes it seem like we’ve given up with coming up with our own innovative ideas but would rather look towards countries like Japan, who has nearly a third of our population, Germany, who has almost a fourth of our population, etc. Not that population is the only indicator, obviously, but if it wasn’t playing a role we’d also be looking at countries like China which I don’t remember doing. I believe it is up to the states to coincide and figure it out. If the solution doesn’t come from the bottom up (or at least the middle), then there will be people left behind and we’ll be right back to where we began. This isn’t to say no one will be left out, but a desperate change is needed before we start counting the number of people we can’t save or wallets that have been rendered useless.
I would say the most challenging part of this class is keeping track of the history of healthcare, and recognizing who comes up with specific concepts, as there have been many sociologists who seem to want to characterize the issues in their own way. Nevertheless, it is very interesting to learn about how all the different groups play a role in deciding the healthcare in our country, whether its the insurance companies, the hospitals, or the consumers (patients) themselves. It’s all an intricate system that simply needs a little give and take to function properly. A solution is possible, and education is the first step. This class could very easily be the stepping stone to finding a way out.