We senior citizens are besieged with too many well-meaning health warnings and directives! From TV commercials and pop-up ads for new pharmacological wonders to the omnipresent reminders from our friends at AARP, there’s more than enough information about how we can avoid large problems and take care of what ails us.
This deluge of information can help and harm me. On the one hand, I soak up every new warning and encouragement as ratification that I’m already taking good care of myself. I need those reminders so that I don’t go off-track—gobbling vitamin pills or overdosing on coffee. New information also suggests necessary changes in self-care.
On the other hand, the volume and variety of these health-oriented messages tempts me toward a tendency I’d rather not admit: Being a hypochondriac. Every ache or pain could be a sign for some new-and-dreadful condition. Knowing symptoms for this-and-that, I can easily fall into the trap of self-diagnosis and the anxiety that can come with such knowledge.
As more parts of my body and brain need attention, I want to make sure that this “temple of the Holy Ghost” doesn’t get run down. I’d also like to know when my self-care morphs into a self-defeating hypochondria—over-imagining of every illness and physical defect known to modern medicine.
How to stay balanced? I keep reading, and I keep listening to others. I trust my family physician implicitly, and after all these years can sense his gentle signals: You’re over-thinking this thing! Because my spouse comes from a long tradition of moderated self-care, she is always a good reality check, too.
What most keeps me from needless worry: Trust in the capabilities of my body and mind to heal, to remain healthy, and to concentrate on being “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
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