Health indicates that our bodies and minds are working as they should. It’s common to dismiss it as an abstraction, brought into plain view only by its absence. It’s the product of our genetic code, our environment, the resources and information to which we have access, and our behavior. Most of us are born with it, but many struggle with it before our first breath. For all of us, it’s a fight for our lives that we will inevitably lose, but we hope, nonetheless, to stand in the ring for as long as possible.
The metronomic rhythm of life’s progression presages our own futures and recalls our pasts. Swaddled in the arms of our parents and clinging to their hands as we made our way through an unfamiliar world, we remember the carefree moments of childhood when health was only a matter of waking up if we thought of it at all. In visits to our grandparents and great grandparents at assisted living facilities or hospitals, we worry that we, too, will perhaps someday lose our grip on reality and be confined by our physical limitations.
Today, we find ourselves somewhere in between, but time’s forward march signals the direction we’re headed, if not the turn-by-turn instructions. The well-trodden path provides us clues of what to expect: the effects of eating certain foods, exercising, access and affordability of healthcare, obstacles like heart disease and cancer that many of us will likely face.
If we’re not already asking these questions now, we will ask ourselves what we can do to prepare, whether we’ll receive the care we need, and how to maximize the time we have. What is our role, the role of our healthcare providers, and the role of society in provisioning the information and services required for the health of its population? To examine this question and buoy investment in the longevity and well-being of our families, the people we care about, and our society, we’ve recorded our thoughts and related research on health below.