Unfortunately, prescription painkillers are drugs and as such can be just as damaging in the long term as drinking alcohol or taking illegal substances.
As all baby boomers will know, conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis have become a hard – and painful – reality for many people in this generation. Struggling to cope with daily pressures such as caring for families, cleaning a house and perhaps even continuing to work full time can exacerbate the tougher symptoms of these conditions, leaving many turning to painkillers in an attempt to achieve a few hours of pain-free bliss.
Unfortunately, though, prescription painkillers are drugs and as such can be just as damaging in the long term as drinking alcohol or taking illegal substances. They can even cause the pain felt by users to heighten, thus making the existing condition worse and creating a vicious, reliant circle. Issues such as addiction and dependency are real risks – yet going without can lead to hours of pain and a resulting drop in productivity.
So the question is how those suffering from conditions which cause pain can reduce their suffering without relying too heavily upon prescription medication? There are a number of lifestyle choices and natural remedies out there – it is simply a case of experimenting and finding a solution which works in each individual case.
Many people scoff at the healing properties of natural ingredients, as modern medicine has created the giant pharmaceutical industry and largely replaced herbal alternatives. However, in recent years, natural remedies have begun to make a comeback with studies demonstrating ways in which ingredients such as ginger can ease everything from migraines to arthritic pain. In fact, for those suffering from arthritis, two of the most effective supplements that can be introduced into the diet are capsaicin and ginger – the former is the ingredient which gives peppers their heat, and can either be ingested or used in an ointment to reduce joint swelling. As both capsaicin and fresh ginger can be a bit of a shock to the system, it is best to start slowly and build up use as frequent ingestion can cause problems within the digestive system.
The problem with modern life is that people tend to have very full days – this means that working to a tight schedule is often essential in order to complete the day’s task list. Unfortunately, this can see health concerns take a back seat, along with everyday factors which could prevent issues from arising in the future. Those with conditions such as osteoporosis, for example, often choose to jump in the car or take the lift when out as a means of saving time, yet this can actually heighten the problems faced in the future. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends sufferers engage in two different types of activity to strengthen bones and prevent breakages in the future – weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. This can involve anything from climbing the stairs to dancing, and even encompasses visiting the gym! Prevention can, in many cases, be entirely achievable in terms of bone weakness and breaks, so fit in a little exercise wherever possible and reduce reliance on painkillers through building a stronger body.
One of the greatest issues in the baby boomer generation at present is the alarming presence of mental illnesses such as depression – something which can have a hugely detrimental impact on life. While baby boomers are thought to “have it all”, the stresses placed upon this generation can cause low mood and negative feelings to skyrocket, yet this topic remains relatively taboo to discuss. For those who do visit their GP to seek help in coping with depression, the general route tends to be medication in the first instance, yet this can actually prove harmful due to the presence of addictive properties which can make the withdrawal process extremely difficult. Clinical psychologist Dr Steve Ilardi points out that anti-depressant medications only have around a 50 per cent success rate, and instead believes that societal and lifestyle changes are the better route to beating mental illness. Taking fish oil supplements boost omega 3 in the system, allowing for a greater production of serotonin, and getting enough sleep can combat anxiety – both essential in rectifying chemical imbalances within the brain which can lead to clinical depression.
Although baby boomers face a number of struggles, ensuring enough time is made to take care of health is essential in striking a positive balance in life. Rather than risking an addiction to painkillers or anti-depressants, examining natural remedies and lifestyle changes is a good first port of call in creating a healthier, happier situation.
Photo: Angela Doss