Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
For the past six years, the nonprofit Sunrise Foundation has presented a daylong program that encourages participants to consider the meaning of wellness and the variety of paths to reach that destination. This year, participants gathered at The Community Church of Honolulu in Nu‘uanu on a picture-perfect Saturday morning in October to hear keynote speaker John Houk, M.D., talk about the ways in which people age in society and the challenges and opportunities they often encounter.
Houk, a primary care physician for 37 years whose patients are mainly older adults, used two fictional patient examples — “Bill” and “Iris” — to demonstrate how two individuals can age very differently, often influenced by their lifestyle choices.
In this case, “Bill,” an obese Caucasian man who smoked cigarettes and drank two cola beverages a day for much of his adult life, ended up developing a number of chronic diseases that eventually resulted in his taking 12 different medications and eight nutritional supplements. Because of his complex medical profile, he also saw six different physicians. Bill was a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy who was not fond of vegetables. His medical problems included high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and an irregular heartbeat. He was single and cared for his mother until her death. However, their failure to discuss in specific terms her preferences in the event of her incapacitation resulted in medical interventions toward the end of her life that only prolonged her suffering.
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