The first week of 2017 has barely gone by and already the crumbling National Health Service (NHS) has made headlines with the Red Cross describing the state of our health services as a “humanitarian crisis”.
Are we finally at the point where a full-blown NHS crisis is engulfing us with deaths on trolleys in A&E departments, patients dying of dehydration and hundreds being left stranded in corridors with some lying helpless and in pain for over 36 hours?
Breaking the fall
I’m sure that like me you too are absolutely horrified about the state of the NHS.
The fact is, if you’ve been working hard all your life — making your National Insurance contribution every month — you are now left with the prospect of never reaping any benefit from the NHS and like many others you may end up being one of the hundreds of thousands of elderly people needlessly suffering in pain while you wait for treatments because care and services are being “rationed”.
Let’s take hip, knee and other orthopaedic operations as an example. The waiting list for these operations has risen by a quarter over the past eight years to more than half a million in 2016. This is due to a number of factors like an ageing population and the rising numbers of obesity.
It is now estimated that one in 10 people have to wait more than 18 weeks for hip and knee surgery amid rising concerns that the NHS is deliberately delaying these treatments because they are not seen as life threatening.
This comes as hospitals have been ordered not to schedule any more major non-urgent operations to avoid a meltdown. Routine operations, like hip and knee replacement surgery, are now being cancelled because regulators say that beds are too full and wards must make space for emergency patients.
Patients forced to wait for surgery suffer extreme pain as their bones wear away and are left increasingly immobile, often unable to climb stairs or go outside.
Unfortunately, the situation has gotten so dire that all the outcries in the world won’t make a difference. And if you are 60 and older, chances are that you may soon be left in a similar position — waiting in agony for an operation.
To make matters worse, as you get older, the risk of falling increases, which in turn increases your risk of fractures and the potential need for a hip or knee replacement.
Fortunately, a new study shows that there’s a very simple form of exercise that could help reduce your risk of falling and even help improve your balance.
Australian researchers followed about 300 participants, all over the age of 60, and had them do approximately an hour of yoga once or twice a week for up to six months.
All the participants used a certified yoga instructor and props like blankets, chairs, blocks, pillows, straps, and mats to help them do the stretches and moves (which turn out to be less complicated than you may think).
After the programme was over, they had so much mobility and function that they were better able to handle physical tasks – like getting out of a chair or walking at a strong pace.
Not only did the elderly patients improve their balance and mobility by doing yoga, but they also seemed to enjoy the programmes. Participants attended 82 per cent of classes, which is a pretty high attendance rate for any “fitness” programme.
The best part of the study is that the participants were able to improve their balance and mobility in such a SHORT period of time!
What’s more – the benefits of yoga go well beyond mobility and balance. Yoga has been proven to aid hot flushes, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, arthritis pain, and hypertension. It can even help with stroke rehabilitation.
At a time when we see one of our most precious institutions crumbling at its foundations, perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves is to follow the old adage: Prevention is better than cure…
It might just save us an agonising trip to the hospital.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Reality Check: Was 27 December the busiest NHS day? Published online 09.01.17, bbc.co.uk
Theresa May’s great deceit: there is little left to share, Published online 09.01.17, theguardian.com
NHS rationing: hip-replacement patients needlessly suffering in pain on operation waiting lists, Published online 01.01.17, telegraph.co.uk
“Yoga improves balance and mobility for older people, study says,” Fox News, Jan. 16, 2016