Support a cause, and support your own health

A column by Graham Hookey who writes about education, parenting and eldercare for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

September is Alzheimer’s month. Like any public relations campaign, the purpose of designating a month of the year to a specific disease is to offer a focused opportunity for all services and support organizations related to that particular disease to pool their advertising funds and offer both awareness and education.

Sept. 21 is actually Alzheimer’s Action Day, and many organizations will hold charitable events or make themselves visible in the community through information booths or other activities intended to generate greater awareness in the public.

There are many diseases, of course, and many months and days designated to provide insight into them and request support for research that is going on to eradicate them.

There’s rarely a Saturday, when the weather is decent, that doesn’t feature a walkathon for some good cause. We might not be able to support them all, but we can certainly appreciate the effort others make to generate greater support for their particular cause.

Only 100 years ago, “blood-letting” was still a recognized medical practice for many ills. Suffice it to say, the evolution of modern medicine took off after the development of vaccines as a result of the Spanish Flu that swept the world near the end of the First World War.

We’ve come a long way and much of that progress has been made because we came to understand that, through science, we could find answers to treating and preventing many of the scourges that took away people’s health and reduced their lifespan.

In 1920, the average lifespan was 54 years. Today it is in the upper 70s.

Still, it has only been 100 years. There is much more to learn about the treatment and prevention of diseases.  We fully understand how lifestyle choices significantly increase risks of certain diseases, and thus all the research in the world won’t eliminate problems caused by poor decision-making.

But the more we learn, the less suffering has to take place.

I am not totally convinced that western, science-based medicine is the only component of good health care. I do believe there are spiritual aspects of thought and meditation that reduce the need for drug interventions in some cases. As we learn more about how the brain works, we’ll find that there are scientific reasons for the curative effects of such spiritual thinking and perhaps we’ll lessen our dependence on external drugs and increase our ability to fire up our own internal healing systems.

What we do know is that one of the key elements of personal health is exercise and, thus, if we walk in every local event that supports a particular health cause, we’ll probably be a lot more fit and healthy.

That alone is a good reason to have days and months dedicated to various health topics.

Support a cause, and support your own good health in doing so.

It just makes sense.

Graham Hookey writes about education, parenting and eldercare. Email him at

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