How different societies regard the elderly

The older you get, the wiser you get. This is undoubtedly a continuum scale. My concern is, why do some societies treat the elderly so poorly? These humans carry a vast amount of information and knowledge. They have witnessed and experienced adversity throughout history, shaping the modern world. Some have information that we can only get through books. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to hear concrete facts and anecdotes from someone who has lived in that moment of history? What a wealth of knowledge the elderly have! They are deserving of every type of respect. The young will always be at their mercy in terms of acquiring their wisdom, knowledge, and information.

Different societies treat the elderly in different ways. For some, they are highly esteemed since they are seen as a source of wisdom. In other societies, the old or per se aging is viewed negatively and as a burden. Others consider them as storytellers with enormous knowledge to impart on the young.

The terminology of society typically reflects its respect for the elderly. In Hindi, honorific suffixes like -ji allow speakers to show further respect for notable figures, such as Mahatma Gandhi, who is frequently referred to as Gandhiji. According to Wikipedia, mzee is a phrase used by younger speakers of Kiswahili, a language spoken in various parts of Africa, to express a great level of respect for elders. The Hawaiian word kūpuna means “elders” with the additional sense of knowledge, experience, and skill. The suffix -san in Japanese, which is frequently used with elders, indicates the country’s strong respect for the elderly.

Many African societies are shaped by the ideal of the respected elder. The senior generation rules the extended family. The elderly wield power in the community because they are the closest in age to their forefathers. Older individuals have a high standing because they believe that family growth is beneficial and fortunate. People consider large families as a source of protection in times of difficulty, and they want to be remembered as ancestors by their offspring. Older people have always been seen as a positive light in Sub-Saharan Africa as reservoirs of knowledge and wisdom. After dinner, many African villages gather around a central fire to listen to the elder storytellers.

What a wealth of knowledge the elderly have…

The elderly are held in high regard in Eastern societies. A new “Elderly Rights Law” passed in China warns adult children not to “ignore or insult elderly people” and requires them to visit their elderly parents frequently, no matter how far away they live. The law also offers tools for enforcing it: Offspring who fail to make such visits to their parents risk penalties ranging from fines to jail time. As in Chinese culture, the common expectation in Korea is that once parents reach retirement age, roles reverse and it is the responsibility of an adult child to care for his or her parents.

A person’s 60th birthday is likewise a big deal in Japan. Kankrei, as the festival is known, is a rite of passage into old age. Respect is regarded as a religious obligation in Asian cultures. Respect is focused on the family and is formalized through language and gestures. The Asian idea of respect affects sentiments of duty within the family as well as how Asian patients make decisions.

When exploring western societies, we find that as people age, the younger generations tend to view them with greater contempt. In Western culture, old age is associated with forgetfulness and irrelevance. They are treated more like children who, due to superior technology, can not understand the modern world. Because the fast-changing world has left them behind, the younger generation regards them as unreliable. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information research, this attitude may originate from westerners’ preference for personal ambitions over familial bonds.

The emphasis on qualities like autonomy and independence is typical of Western societies, which are often youth-oriented. According to anthropologist Jared Diamond, who has examined the treatment of the elderly throughout cultures, the elderly in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States live “lonely lives apart from their children and longtime companions.” The elderly in these cultures frequently move to retirement villages, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes as their health deteriorates.

Similar to China, France also implemented an Elderly Rights Law in 2004 (Article 207 of the Civil Code) requiring persons to maintain contact with their geriatric parents. Perhaps some hope is on the way for Western societies…?

The elderly are considered the “wisdom-keepers” in tribal cultures and are held in high respect. They are regarded as the guardians of their tribes’ language and traditions. Most of these tribes, such as the Choctaw among Native Americans, have a long tradition of oral storytelling. Their stories were meant to preserve the tribe’s heritage and teach the next generation. Stories about westward migration, the birth of the world from a mound, other histories, and lessons about life or morality.

In her book, Experiencing Old Age in Ancient Rome, Dr. Karen Cokayne of the University of Reading argues that the Romans utilized their elderly and trusted their wisdom and experience, quoting Cicero as saying, “For there is definitely nothing dearer to a man than wisdom, and though age takes away all else, it undoubtedly brings us that.” However, Cokayne emphasizes that elderly people had to earn that high level of esteem by leading a virtuous life. “Wisdom had to be earned – through hard effort, study, and, most importantly, virtuous life. At all times, the elderly were expected to act with moderation and decency. It was assumed that the young learned by example, thus the old had to set a good example for them. This was deeply ingrained in Roman culture.

References

Sugirtharjah S. (1994). The notion of respect in Asian traditions. British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing)3(14), 739–741. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjon.1994.3.14.739

Honorific – Wikipedia. (2009, December 1). Honorific – Wikipedia; en.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorific

Diamond, J. (n.d.). Jared Diamond | Speaker | TED. Jared Diamond | Speaker | TED; http://www.ted.com. Retrieved August 13, 2022, from https://www.ted.com/speakers/jared_diamond

WAGSTAFF, K. (2015, January 8). In China, adults must visit their aging parents… or else | The Week. In China, Adults Must Visit Their Aging Parents… or Else; theweek.com. https://theweek.com/articles/462599/china-adults-must-visit-aging-parents-else

Storytelling and Cultural Traditions | National Geographic Society. (n.d.). Storytelling and Cultural Traditions | National Geographic Society; education.nationalgeographic.org. https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/storytelling-and-cultural-traditions

-. (n.d.). Elders | NCAI. Elders | NCAI; http://www.ncai.org.

Africa: Age and Aging. (n.d.). Africa: Age and Aging; geography.name. https://geography.name/age-and-aging/

Advertisement

The greatest gift anyone can receive is the gift of friendship

There is a phrase that goes, “We don’t choose our family.” The good news is that we chose our friends and they chose us. And these friends eventually become our family. In some sense, family does not necessarily consist of those with whom we share a blood link or are biologically connected.

Friends bring happiness into our life and have a significant impact on our mental health. Everyone needs someone they can confide in freely and unreservedly, someone they can laugh with for no particular reason; everyone needs a friend.

Friendship is characterized by persistent affection, regard, closeness, and trust. It is voluntary for individuals to develop friendships with one another. It is characteristically egalitarian. In contrast to parent-child relationships, for example, each participant in a friendship possess the same degree of power or authority. It is marked by companionship and doing things together

It is well known that healthy human development and adjustment throughout life are greatly aided by friendships. Friendships exist at virtually all stages of life, although their manifestations vary significantly with age. Definitely, making friends is easier when we are younger. It becomes more difficult as we mature and come to understand who we are, and this time we are looking for people with comparable interests and lives. More like, tell me who your friend is and I’ll tell you who you are.

Everyone needs someone they can confide in freely and unreservedly, someone they can laugh with for no particular reason; everyone needs a friend.

There are three different kinds of friends. TD Jakes describes the 3Cs quite well, and it is essential that you understand the distinction between them.

Constituents; They are the ones who support your cause! Constituents are essential for the advancement of your goal. And if you share their values, they will gladly walk with you, collaborate with you, and solve problems with you. However, they will not last forever.

Comrades: They will battle beside you against a common foe. These are not for what you support; rather, they are against what you are against. They are crucial for defending you from invisible obstacles and watching your back. But do not be deceived by their presence; they will only remain with you until the triumph is achieved. These friends are like a framework. They are very near to you and enter your life for a specific reason; when that reason has been fulfilled, the scaffolding is removed. This is okay and don’t be worried. Whatever you were battling always remains intact, but they must depart because they must continue to fight other fights.

Confidants; These are the most precious humans. Every person must have at least one throughout their lifetime. These individuals are scarce and difficult to find. They are so extraordinarily exceptional that regardless of whether you exhibit weakness or strength, they treat you with an anticipation of excellence! You will have very few of them, which is acceptable. You are an exception if you have two or three of these in your lifetime. For this degree of reciprocation, time and energy are at a minimum, thus you only get a few of them.

Constituents support what you support; Comrades oppose what you oppose; and Confidants are those individuals in your life who are genuinely on your side. The only actual risk associated with Constituents and Comrades is their misclassification. When you regard either of them as “Confidants,” you may experience heartbreak when they abandon you for a better cause. This is one reason why many individuals do not allow intimate proximity. In the moment, it can be difficult to distinguish between a Constituent, a Comrade, and a Confidant because they appear so similar. Constituents and Comrades are expected to leave after their roles are fulfilled, and this is OK.

The love of confidants is unconditional. They celebrate you. Whether you are up or down, whether you are right or wrong. They are committed to the long haul. If you get yourself into a problem, they will join you in it. You can feel safe opening up and sharing anything with them. You can trust them so much that you can be yourself around them just as you would be on your own. You will never reach your full potential in life until you find your Confidant. Though they may not always agree with you, they will always have your back and strive to help you become the best possible version of yourself. Through the cooperation of Constituents and Comrades, numerous positive possibilities exist. However, the beauty of the Confidant is that this someone is for you!

Constituents support what you support; Comrades oppose what you oppose; and Confidants are those individuals in your life who are genuinely on your side.

Everyone needs a mental health day when they lose a friend. For some, probably the majority, these individuals are more qualified to be family members than their blood relations, if you know what I mean. My friends keep me sane, whilst my family drives me practically insane — is anyone else in the same boat? I don’t know where I would be without my friends, which is why I value each of you, whether you are comrades, constituents, or confidants. In addition, I owe my confidants everything and will be eternally thankful.

As you usually observe Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, you must also observe International Friends Day on July 30. Add this date to your calendar and make an effort to recognize these beautiful people who decided to be in your life regardless, not because of…

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

References

TD Jakes– the three C’s

Healthcare in underdeveloped nations

In certain impoverished nations, unless you pay at the reception, you cannot see a medical professional–even if you are bleeding, there is nothing they can do other than give you a cloth to wrap and stop the bleeding and that’s if someone is kind enough. This means that you must pay out of pocket for healthcare services each time you see the doctor. In these countries, unemployment is very high, sanitation is very poor, and people are highly susceptible to illness not once or twice, but constantly, with no access to healthcare.  As a result of having to pay for these services out of their own pockets, the lack of financial security increases families’ financial strain.

“Without health care, how can children reach their full potential? And without a healthy, productive population, how can societies realize their aspirations?” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Universal health coverage can help level the playing field for children today, in turn helping them break intergenerational cycles of poverty and poor health tomorrow.”

The most primary and infectious causes of death in developing nations are malaria, AIDS, and tuberculosis. In fact, these diseases can be prevented in the same manner as in industrialized nations. Tuberculosis? implying that both adults and children lack access to immunization. Immunization, seriously? Everyone should be vaccinated against these deadly diseases, which have claimed countless lives before our great-grandparents were born. In the 1700s, tuberculosis was not only referred to as the white plague due to the sufferers’ pallor, but also as the “Captain of all these men of death.” Now that it is possible to contain the disease, why not do so in every region of the world and not only in wealthy nations? 

If an outbreak occurs, it can affect people in both underdeveloped and developed countries. For example, Ebola emerged in 1976 in the DRC and South Sudan. After a period of few to no occurrences, an outbreak resurfaced between March 2014 and June 2016. This was the largest Ebola outbreak ever reported, with over 28,000 cases. This occurred not just in West Africa, but also in East Africa, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. If these regions of Africa had proper healthcare, the disease may have been efficiently contained. National and international authorities collaborated to help terminate this outbreak by building prevention programs and messages, as well as implementing policies with care. Personnel from the CDC were dispatched to West Africa to aid in response activities, including surveillance, contact tracing, data management, laboratory testing, and health education. In addition, the CDC team assisted with logistics, staffing, communication, analytics, and management.

During the height of the response, the CDC trained 24,655 West African healthcare professionals in infection prevention and control methods. In addition, by the end of 2015, 24 laboratories in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were equipped to do Ebola virus testing. If all these strategies were done not only during pandemics, we would be able to avert a great number of outbreaks. These nations and others would be able to contain an outbreak before it spreads internationally. However, we wait until a pandemic threatens our minds before implementing laboratories and educating more healthcare staff in developing nations. Why not do this in the absence of a potentially deadly disease? Why not be prepared for anything that could affect us in both developed and poor countries?

We’re not ready for the next epidemic, Bill Gates remarked during the ebola outbreak. Obviously, Covid happened, and what appeared to be a simple sentence made so much sense. He went on to explain that we require a response system with the capacity to mobilize tens of thousands of healthcare staff. During his TED talk, he mentioned that in order to combat an epidemic, we need robust health systems in developing nations– where mothers can safely give birth there, and children can receive all of their vaccinations there. However, this is also where the outbreak will appear first.

“Past experiences taught us that designing a robust health financing mechanism that protects each individual vulnerable person from financial hardship, as well as developing health care facilities and a workforce including doctors to provide necessary health services wherever people live, are critically important in achieving ‘health for all,’” said Mr. Katsunobu Kato, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan. 

What are we waiting for to improve healthcare in developing nations? In other words, what affects individuals in developing nations is likely to impact developed nations. Why not collaborate to create not only a better national healthcare system but also a universal healthcare system? Universal health means that everyone has access to and is covered by a well-organized and well-funded health system that provides quality and comprehensive health care and protects individuals from financial ruin if they utilize these services.

Guaranteeing the right to health means eliminating all kinds of barriers to accessing services…

Dr. Carrissa F. Etienne– Director of the Pan American Health Organization

Some Key actions for Universal Health are:

  1. Expanding equitable access,- Initiating and gradually extending primary care models and comprehensive service delivery that are centered on people’s needs. Assuring the prudent utilization of medications and health technology.
  2. Increasing stewardship and governance by teaching and empowering people and communities about their health-related rights and duties and encouraging them to participate in the development of health-related policies.
  3. Increasing and enhancing finance through eliminating payments at the point of service entry, identifying sustainable means of increasing health financing, and financially protecting individuals. These are only a few examples; the list is far longer.

The enhancement of health care in developing nations will have a substantial effect on the mental health of an infinite number of individuals. Healthcare is a human right!

References

World Bank and WHO: Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses. (n.d.). World Bank; http://www.worldbank.org. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2017/12/13/world-bank-who-half-world-lacks-access-to-essential-health-services-100-million-still-pushed-into-extreme-poverty-because-of-health-expenses

CDC. (2022, January 14). World TB Day History. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; http://www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/tb/worldtbday/history.htm

Fact sheet about malaria. (2022, April 6). Malaria; http://www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malaria

2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa | History | Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease) | CDC. (2019, March 8). 2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa | History | Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease) | CDC; http://www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/history/2014-2016-outbreak/index.html#:~:text=The%20patient%20recovered.,hospitals%20in%20the%20United%20States.

Universal health coverage (UHC). (2021, April 1). Universal Health Coverage (UHC); http://www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/universal-health-coverage-(uhc)

Gates, B. (n.d.). Bill Gates: The next outbreak? We’re not ready | TED Talk. Bill Gates: The next Outbreak? We’re Not Ready | TED Talk; http://www.ted.com. Retrieved June 7, 2022, from https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_the_next_outbreak_we_re_not_ready

What happens if Abortion rights are revoked?

Sometimes I wonder if the United States is regressing rather than progressing. The patriarchy was sitting somewhere one day, whether at a political conference, golfing, campaigning for office, or even swearing-in– you name it! And suddenly, one of them had an inch to poke the matriarchy. We are striving for equal wages, and now you are threatening to withdraw our abortion rights. Seriously, welcome to the poker game. We women are inherently multi-taskers: we shall battle for both and much more.

Fetal rights and the protection of women’s health are two of the justifications stated by opponents of abortion restrictions. For starters, if you cared about fetal rights, how about addressing this country’s appalling rate of infant mortality? In 2005, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 6.9 deaths per 1000 births. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States ranks 30th in the world. The infant mortality rate in the United States is greater than in most other industrialized countries, and it appears to be worsening.” “There should be support programs for children once they are born,” says Kathryn Kolbert, a reproductive rights attorney.

Just to be clear, induced abortion is actually safer than childbirth, so if the rationale is to preserve women’s health, that’s simply not true. Among wealthy countries, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate. The maternal mortality rate for 2020 was 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births, a significant increase from the previous year.

One study assessed the death rates related with infants born and legal induced abortions in the United States from 1998 to 2005. Pregnancy-related mortality was 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births among mothers who delivered live neonates. The induced abortion mortality rate was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions. Prenatal complications were more likely during childbirth than during abortion in recent comparative research in the United States. A live birth has a 14-fold greater risk of death for women than an abortion-related death, according to the study. The findings, while not surprising, experts say, contradict several state regulations that claim abortions are high-risk operations.

According to Dr. Bryna Harwood, an ob-gyn at the University of Illinois in Chicago, an induced abortion, like any other medical procedure, requires informed permission from the woman. That is, women recognize and accept the dangers associated with their various options. What complicates situations, according to Harwood, is when the government intervenes and mandates doctors to provide information that isn’t always accurate or medically sound — typically exaggerating the risk of abortion.

Instead of fussing about outlawing abortion, how about focusing on lowering both the neonatal and maternity death rate? According to several studies, some factors contributing to the increase in maternal mortality rates include a shortage of maternity caregivers, particularly midwives, and a lack of access to full postpartum assistance. While other high-income countries offer paid leave to new moms, the United States does not. Maternity leave enables new mothers in adjusting to the physical and emotional demands of motherhood while also providing families with financial stability. Except for the United States, other developed countries require at least 14 weeks of paid leave. In addition, several countries offer more than a year of maternity leave.

Unlike the United States, in other developed nations, postpartum home visits are guaranteed. Postpartum care helps mothers and newborns recover physically and emotionally. Midwife or nurse home visits boost mental health, breastfeeding, and health care expenses.   Home visits allow healthcare professionals to address mental health concerns as well as analyze socioeconomic determinants of health, such as food, shelter, and financial security.

There are more pressing matters to address than poking the matriarchy with their reproductive freedom. If you truly cared about women’s health, as you claim, those must be some of your aims, or else this is just about controlling women. This is about confining women– by the time you want to outlaw the safest women’s reproductive procedure. Because if we don’t have a choice over whether, when, and with whom we have children, women will be unable to function as equal members of society.

In terms of mental health, overturning Roe v. Wade will exacerbate and destroy the lives of many girls and women. With all the psychological and economic strain that comes with having children, the mental battle will feel like a war zone where you’re sure you’re doomed. Many individuals believe that getting an abortion is mostly motivated by a desire not to have children. Most individuals are simply not prepared to care for children– by the time they are trying to care for themselves, having another human to care for is daunting, so it is postponed until they are ready psychologically and financially. This alone protects not just the people in the current circumstances, but also future generations and the society as a whole. Poverty is already one of the primary causes of death and mental illness. According to research, poverty claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, with more than half of them being children under the age of five — that is 4000 deaths each day. Do we truly want more humans to be born in poverty?

In the United States, more than 11.5 million children live in poverty. When a child grows up in poverty, he or she may not have the opportunity to go to school, receive adequate nourishment, or receive complete healthcare.

What kind of society will we be living in? Homelessness is already one of the most serious issues in the United States. Look at all these concerns that you are already aware of, and your primary goal is to make them worse– how lovely politicians? Everything is interconnected and interdependent; therefore, putting your ego aside, you will recognize that prohibiting abortion will be the worst decision ever implemented.

Whatever a person’s race, ethnicity, gender identity, or whoever one loves, everyone deserves the freedom of choice when to become parents and the support they need to build a family and bring up their children in an environment that promotes dignity and safety for everyone.

There are more pressing matters to address than poking the matriarchy with their reproductive freedom.

References

Raymond, Elizabeth G. MD, MPH; Grimes, David A. MD The Comparative Safety of Legal Induced Abortion and Childbirth in the United States, Obstetrics & Gynecology: February 2012 – Volume 119 – Issue 2 Part 1 – p 215-219
doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31823fe923

Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020. (2022, February 23). Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020; http://www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/maternal-mortality/2020/maternal-mortality-rates-2020.htm

Infant Mortality:How Does The US Compare? (n.d.). Infant Mortality:How Does The US Compare?; http://www.nptinternal.org. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.nptinternal.org/productions/chcv2/infant-mortality/howuscompare.html

Maternal Mortality Maternity Care US Compared 10 Other Countries | Commonwealth Fund. (2020, November 18). Maternal Mortality Maternity Care US Compared 10 Other Countries | Commonwealth Fund; http://www.commonwealthfund.org. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/nov/maternal-mortality-maternity-care-us-compared-10-countries

Red Nose Day 2018 : Charity Navigator. (2018, May 21). Charity Navigator; http://www.charitynavigator.org. https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=6330&c_src=WPAIDSEARCH&gclid=CjwKCAjwp7eUBhBeEiwAZbHwkbFrD3itOnol5mbiwZx0JmGvZrW9jxKFqKVQyYhLRkAgG7_zfemhYBoCvQkQAvD_BwE

Poverty Facts and Stats — Global Issues. (2013, January 7). Poverty Facts and Stats — Global Issues; http://www.globalissues.org. https://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats#:~:text=It%20claims%20the%20lives%20of,number%20of%20deaths%20from%20tuberculosis.

Maternal mortality disparities in the United States

Despite being quite good with children, I have never desired or felt the urge to have children of my own. However, when the prospect of giving birth crosses my mind, I am terrified and helpless—not necessairly of giving birth, but of giving birth as a black woman in the United States. When someone close to me or anyone I know gets pregnant and that person is black, my mind wanders to a cruel world more like a wilderness. I ponder what their experience will be like—  Will the individual return from the hospital alive, will they survive their aftermath, and will they be able to raise their children? I contemplate the doctor’s character, perhaps he or she will be kind enough to do their job with integrity. Perhaps! Perhaps! This is a state of limbo,  a state of doubt and  complete uncertainty. This wilderness is a dark realm riddled with raw sores and agony. It is frightening and the absolute worst place to be. How does one ease their State of mind when this notion occurs?

What are the statistics on the maternity mortality rate?

Before childbirth, during labor, and after childbirth, black women are two to six times more likely to suffer and die from prenatal complications than white folks. According to the National Library of Medicine, which evaluated data from 1979 to 1992, the pregnancy-related mortality ratio for Black women was 25.1 per 100,000, for Hispanic women it was 10.3, and for non-Hispanic white women it was 6.0. According to the American Medical Association, these rates have not improved, and bleeding, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and embolism are the leading causes of maternal death. Black women are nearly three times as likely as white women to die from a hemorrhage.

This is a recent 2020 report on maternal death rates from the CDC. The maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 55.3 per 100,000 live births, which was 2.9 times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic White women. Significantly higher rates were observed among non-Hispanic Black women than among non-Hispanic White and Hispanic women. Significant increases occurred between 2019 and 2020 for non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women. The increase recorded between 2019 and 2020 for non-Hispanic White women was not statistically significant. The following graph from the CDC illustrates the aforementioned information.

When you read something theoretically, it doesn’t hit you as hard as when you use numbers—that is to say statistics. Numbers hit different— it’s as though your mind recognizes the enormity of the problem in plain sight. I was browsing the CDC website when these statistics blew my mind. It’s like, what the f**k is going on in this country.  Numbers certainly don’t lie.  And, to make matters worse, these rates continue to rise. This is bad—and bad is a nice term at the moment. This is cruel. 

Although statistics on the maternal mortality rate in Black women existed, it wasn’t until recently that this topic received national attention. According to Dr. Neel Shah, an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, until recently, medical practitioners did not systematically track maternal death rates. There are several approaches to comprehending these large disparities. Racial disparities are to blame for the rising number of mothers dying in childbirth in the United States. Black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die during childbirth.

Being wealthy or famous makes no difference given your skin color. Take into account Beyonce, Serena Williams, and Olympian Allyson Felix, all of whom have come forward to share their experiences with pregnancy and childbirth.  Even if you are the world’s best athlete and have a deep grasp of your own body, advocating for yourself might be harder than anticipated. Serena Williams was diagnosed with a clotting condition. She had previously experienced a blood clot in her lungs, so she was familiar with what it felt like. After giving birth, she got a blood clot in her lungs, and she was compelled to push vehemently for care. Because the professionals did not initially believe her, treatment was delayed. Blood clots are potentially fatal. As a result, it appears that education and social standing do not shield Black women from racism in healthcare.

There are countless examples of black women who have suffered unnecessary injury, death, and suffering. When these women described their symptoms and showed concern about what was happening to them, particularly with regard to their pain, the medical professionals believed them less. Reserach shows that medical professionals are more slow to respond to and address the pain of black individuals. Aren’t medical professionals trained to profile people and determine who is sick and who isn’t? Perhaps they are explicitly instructed to treat people differently based on their skin color?—I’m eager to learn what happens educationally during med school.

“There are systemic traces of racism that are built into this practice, and the way doctors are trained and some of that has roots that go back to slavery.”

Dr. Neel Shah– Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School

Among developed countries, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate. In most other countries, midwives outnumber ob-gyns, and primary care is fundamental to the health care system. As can be seen, medical experts play an important part in every healthcare system. Despite the fact that our country has a scarcity of medical professionals, this does not excuse the reality that the system is flawed and biased. Furthermore, the United States is the only country among developed countries that does not guarantee access to postpartum provider home visits or paid parental leave.

I assume that some doctors are doing everything in their power to treat each patient with equality and integrity. Nonetheless, our system is so broken and defective that other doctors are oblivious of their inappropriate and especially brutal behavior resulting into a high number of premature mortality.

References

Flanders-Stepans M. B. (2000). Alarming racial differences in maternal mortality. The Journal of perinatal education9(2), 50–51. https://doi.org/10.1624/105812400X87653

Behind the Headlines about Maternal Mortality. (2019, March 14). Behind the Headlines about Maternal Mortality; http://www.ihi.org. http://www.ihi.org/communities/blogs/behind-the-headlines-about-maternal-mortality

Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020. (2022, February 23). Maternal Mortality Rates in the United States, 2020; http://www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/maternal-mortality/2020/maternal-mortality-rates-2020.htm

CDC. (2016, January 1). CDC Newsroom. CDC; http://www.cdc.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html

NATAL podcast series gives voice to Black birthing experiences. (2021, August 19). Every Child Thrives; everychildthrives.com. https://everychildthrives.com/natal-podcast-series-gives-voice-to-black-birthing-experiences/

Maternal Mortality Maternity Care US Compared 10 Other Countries | Commonwealth Fund. (2020, November 18). Maternal Mortality Maternity Care US Compared 10 Other Countries | Commonwealth Fund; http://www.commonwealthfund.org. https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2020/nov/maternal-mortality-maternity-care-us-compared-10-countries

Healthcare should be a human right

The United States has such significant health care disparity that it is the only developed country that relies on private health insurance. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, approximately 20% of Americans had little or no health insurance. As a result, about 45,000 of those people died each year due to the expensive cost of health care.

No one should become ill and die simply because they are poor or lack access to health care. How inhumane!

The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet its healthcare system is a disgrace. How can such a wealthy country be at the bottom of healthcare statistics given how much money it spends—research shows that the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country. In 2020, annual health expenditures were expected to exceed $4 trillion USD, with personal health care spending totaling $10,202 USD.

I’m curious where all that money goes. Our system prioritizes disease, specialty treatment, and technology over preventive care. Inpatient treatment, intensive care units, and subspecialties such as cardiology and gastroenterology are prioritized over nutrition, exercise, mental health, and primary care education. Doctors in high-tech specialties (such as anesthesiology, cardiology, or surgery) often earn far more than those in primary care.

You visit the doctor for a sunburn rush and receive a bill for approximately nine hundred dollars. Keep in mind that the time you spent with the doctor was about 2 minutes. For individuals who have health insurance, the bill will be lower or even covered. In fact, even insured Americans spend more money out of pocket for healthcare than residents in most other wealthy countries. Some people resort to buying drugs from other nations where the prices are much lower. Even though the power structure may be agreeable to healthcare insurers, pharmaceutical firms, and those healthcare professionals who benefit financially from it, our existing healthcare system is not financially sustainable. So, how much do you think individuals without insurance suffer from the consequences? This is completely ridiculous!

The most outrageous thing is that if you don’t have health insurance for a certain length of time in a year, you have to pay a fine/penalty to the IRS. In any case, health insurance is required. Even folks in the middle class who have health insurance risk devastation due to health care disparities. The rising expense of healthcare services can push people into poverty. According to a 2018 research, medical bills drove Seven million people below the federal poverty level. Medical bills have become the most profitable line of business for collection agencies. When it came to medical bankruptcy, the insured were 6% more likely than the uninsured to have declared bankruptcy in the past. They had not budgeted for unanticipated deductible and coinsurance fees. Almost two-thirds were unaware that their hospital was not included in their plan. Approximately 25% had their insurance claims dismissed. Every year, around 530,000 people file for medical bankruptcy. Health insurance providers have been raising patients’ medical expenditures by raising deductibles, which more than doubled between 2007 and 2017. At the same time, employers’ share has decreased. The average deductible in employer-sponsored health plans increased by 255 % between 2006 and 2018. Even those on Medicare are at risk. During retirement, the average 65-year-old couple anticipates $295,000 in medical expenditures. Most of them haven’t saved enough to cover these expenses without jeopardizing their retirement plans.

Is the purpose of our healthcare system to serve the public or to generate profit? A woman in labor was turned away from a private hospital in Alameda County because the hospital’s computer indicated that she did not have insurance. In a county hospital hours later, she gave birth to a stillborn infant. A hospital surgeon in San Bernardino sent a patient who had been attacked and stabbed in the heart to a county medical center after determining that his condition was stable. The patient arrived at the county medical facility in a comatose state, suffered a heart arrest, and subsequently died. These two hospitals transferred these patients to county facilities for economic, not medical, reasons — the receiving hospitals feared they would not be reimbursed for treating the patient. These patients were simply “bad business.”

“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Director-General, World Health Organization
WHO

Everyone should have access to the health treatments they require, when and where they need them, without experiencing financial hardship. When individuals experience marginalization, stigma, or prejudice, their physical and mental health deteriorates. Given the complex and confounding variables that accompany health care in the United States, even contemplating it is a source of stress. But when individuals are given the opportunity to be active participants in their own treatment, rather than passive recipients, and their human rights are respected, the outcomes improve and health systems become more efficient.

We must all work together to eliminate disparities and discriminatory actions so that everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, health status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or migration status, can experience the benefits of good health.

Healthcare should be a human right!

References

Topic: Health expenditures in the U.S. (n.d.). Statista; http://www.statista.com. Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/topics/6701/health-expenditures-in-the-us/#topicHeader__wrapper

Health is a fundamental human right. (2017, December 10). Health Is a Fundamental Human Right; http://www.who.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/health-is-a-fundamental-human-right

Is our healthcare system broken? – Harvard Health. (2021, July 13). Harvard Health; http://www.health.harvard.edu. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-our-healthcare-system-broken-202107132542

How to plan for rising health care costs | Fidelity. (2021, August 31). How to Plan for Rising Health Care Costs | Fidelity; http://www.fidelity.com. https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/plan-for-rising-health-care-costs

Health Costs | KFF. (2019, September 25). KFF; http://www.kff.org. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/

2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey. (2021, November 10). KFF; http://www.kff.org. https://www.kff.org/health-costs/report/2021-employer-health-benefits-survey/

The Effects of Household Medical Expenditures on Income Inequality in the United States | AJPH | Vol. 108 Issue 3. (2017, October 24). American Journal of Public Health; ajph.aphapublications.org. https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304213

Health Care for Profit or People? (n.d.). Health Care for Profit or People?; http://www.scu.edu. Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://www.scu.edu/mcae/publications/iie/v1n4/healthy.html

Dealing and coping with college stress

I enjoy studying and learning new things every day and every minute—I don’t mind continually challenging myself. However, with all of that curiosity and drive to study comes tension, far too much stress, particularly in college. There is simply too much pressure—pressure to do well, pressure to excel, pressure to complete projects on time.

This semester, I took a tremendously difficult class—so difficult that I wept myself to sleep believing I was going to flunk it. I couldn’t let myself fail this class because, while being the most difficult, it was also my favorite, thus I was in excruciating pain. I recall writing an email to my professor following the second exam, whining about how hard the class is and how much effort I’m putting in, but nothing seems to work. I was really vulnerable in the email, especially because I was writing it after an emotionally charged event. It’s finals week as I write this, and there’s a lot of anxiety for every class, not just this one. I couldn’t even feel my breath before the weekend because I expect so much from myself and nothing less.

In the depths of my anxiousness, I had to remember to breathe, to inhale and exhale and experience every breath. I had to gather my thoughts and tell myself that everything would be fine. I also needed to remind myself that it’s acceptable to fail. Failure is not always a terrible thing; it simply means that you need to put in more effort or alter strategies—you must be flexible.

How prevalent is college stress?

 According to the American Institute of Stress, stress is an epidemic among college students. It’s quite common. 8 out of 10 college students report high levels of stress. Often, the physical and mental difficulties of studying rise in direct proportion to an individual’s progress toward their academic goals. Students are not only expected to manage an increased academic load, but also to operate socially, plan financially, and adjust to living with roommates or away from home for the first time. American Addiction Centers’ infographics depict a breakdown of college stress by majors and most stressful factors.

According to research, stress can contribute to the development of a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Additionally, it might result in the onset of physical ailments such as chronic pain. Stress hormone floods can make people more susceptible to depression, particularly harried college students. Anxiety is characterized by physical symptoms such as muscle tension and tremor, as well as racing thoughts, feelings of impending doom, fear, excessive concern, and anger. Anxiety and sleep disorders frequently coexist. Anxiety and depression can be caused or exacerbated by sleep issues, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and vice versa. Some students use alcohol or drugs to cope with stress; nevertheless, these risky coping techniques can lead to substance abuse. According to a 2018 study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 28% of college students had indulged in binge drinking in the two weeks preceding the survey. Some students may develop chronic physical illnesses as a result of stress, such as chronic neck aches, backaches, stomach aches, and headaches. To relax your body and remove muscular tension, the National Institutes of Health recommends practicing yoga and meditation.

Some common ways to manage stress in college

Get enough sleep—staying up all night studying or doing whatever isn’t going to help. It is usual for students to remain awake all night to study. Staying up all night to study is one of the most detrimental things a student can do to their academics. Two MIT professors discovered a link between sleep and test scores in October of 2019: the less students slept during the semester, the lower their scores. As a result, get adequate sleep—you’ll perform much better when you’re not weary mentally or physically.

Remember to eat healthy and to exercise. Regular exercise keeps your body healthy by releasing endorphins and improving your general cognitive capacities. Exercise can even assist you in falling asleep, reducing stress. Remember that exercise does not have to be difficult; yoga, brief walks, and stretching can all provide significant mental health benefits and help relieve tension.

Above all, avoid procrastination. It may feel amazing at the time, but it frequently leads to stress. You may avoid spending all night catching up on assignments by managing your time carefully. Also, discover your stress outlet and use it as frequently as possible. It could be having regular massages, spending time with friends and family, or taking a long drive while listening to the loudest music possible—dahh!

Personally, I deal with college anxiety and stress by getting adequate sleep, exercising, meditating, and eating a balanced diet—when I do these things, my body is capable of dealing with anything else psychologically. Additionally, I enjoy going out to dance or staying-in to dance, especially when my head is cluttered with so much to do. Dancing helps me in regulating my emotions, which improves my energy and helps me maintain a balanced frequency and vibration.

Along with self-help, institutions offer on-campus mental health services such as counseling clinics, online screening, and individual or group counseling. Using these services can help you improve your mental health, allowing you to thrive academically and socially. Check your school’s website for more information or reach out to any department and they will point you in the right direction.

Remember, if you ignore your stress for too long, it can quickly progress to depression and anxiety. Remember to take of yourself.

References

The Student’s Guide to Managing Stress | BestColleges. (2021, October 22). BestColleges.Com; http://www.bestcolleges.com. https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/

The Impact of Sleep on Learning and Memory | Chronobiology and Sleep Institute | Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. (n.d.). The Impact of Sleep on Learning and Memory | Chronobiology and Sleep Institute | Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; http://www.med.upenn.edu. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.med.upenn.edu/csi/the-impact-of-sleep-on-learning-and-memory.html

School Stress for College Students and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms. (n.d.). School Stress for College Students and Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms; americanaddictioncenters.org. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/learn/college-coping-mechanisms/

Heckman, W. (2019, September 6). Stress: An Epidemic Among College Students – The American Institute of Stress. The American Institute of Stress; http://www.stress.org. https://www.stress.org/stress-an-epidemic-among-college-students

Drug and Alcohol Use in College-Age Adults in 2018 | National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, September 13). National Institute on Drug Abuse; nida.nih.gov. https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2018

Reflection

For leisure and, more importantly, self-reflection, I went on a short weekend getaway. Taking control of myself and shutting out the rest of the world was immensely therapeutic. It is one of my favorite things to do, especially when I have a lot going on — from meditation to journaling to evaluation with curiosity, to name a few. I came upon a waterfall throughout my trek that expressed more with its silent sounds. This is the poem I wrote when self-reflection collided with a deafening wall of quiet.

WaterFall

The cascading sound of a waterfall
It pierces louder in the forest.
Between the trees,
It summons me, whispers my name.
The nearer I come,
The more ferocious the splashes.

The amorphous form of its host
The ground’s fortitude in the absence of gravity 
to contain the never-ending flowing water  
The randomness with which each droplet
finds its way to the entire body

The profound tranquility it exudes
Even if you have a restless soul
The sounds of a waterfall can lull you to slumber.
The halt in time that its presence creates,
The attunement of self it mirrors
There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

(Daisy M. Kiyemba)

Taking care of your mental health is important, therefore don’t hesitate to do so. Despite the busy schedule– find the time, make the time. You matter.

Photo by Sachin C Nair on Pexels.com

What is compassion?

Compassion entails empathizing with another person’s suffering and wishing to do everything in one’s power to alleviate that suffering. Compassion literally translates as “to suffer with another person.” It is defined by emotion researchers as the emotion that occurs when one is confronted with another’s pain and feels driven to alleviate that suffering.

Despite the fact that the ideas are related, compassion is not the same as empathy or altruism. In contrast to empathy, which refers to our ability to understand and experience the emotions of another person, compassion is defined as when those feelings and ideas are accompanied by a desire to assist that individual. While compassion can be felt without resulting in action, altruism is the kind, selfless activity that is typically triggered by such feelings. However, compassion can be felt without resulting in action, and altruism is not necessarily driven by compassion.

Scientists have begun to trace the biological foundation of compassion, which suggests that it serves a deeper evolutionary purpose than many people realize. Cynics may dismiss compassion as sentimental or irrational. Researchers have discovered that when we feel compassion, our pulse slows down, we release the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, and parts of the brain associated with empathy, caregiving, and pleasure light up, which frequently leads in our desire to engage and care for other people.

Types of Compassion

Compassion frequently manifests itself in one of two ways, each of which differs depending on where the feelings are aimed. Compassion for others is a virtue. In order to have compassion for other people, you must first understand their suffering and then work to find a strategy to alleviate that suffering. As a result of these feelings, you are compelled to take action and do everything in your power to improve the situation.

The other is Self-Compassion— Compassion for oneself means treating oneself with the same level of kindness and compassion that one would exhibit to a friend or family member. When you’re not berating yourself for past transgressions, you’re accepting of who you are and your imperfections. 

Compassion Fatigue

Nonetheless, It is possible that continual exposure to the suffering of others will result in what is known as compassion fatigue, which is a severe side effect of compassion. The term “vicarious traumatization” or “secondary traumatization” is also used (Figley, 1995). Working with folks who are suffering from the aftereffects of traumatic experiences can leave an emotional residue or pressure on the individual. It is distinct from burnout, but the two conditions can coexist. Compassion Fatigue can emerge as a result of exposure to a single case or as a result of a “cumulative” level of trauma experienced by a group of people.

Compassion fatigue is that feeling that you have– no more empathy left to give.

When Mother Teresa wrote to her superiors about her plans for the nuns, she made it clear that they were required to take a year off every four or five years so that they might recuperate from the stress of their care-giving responsibilities. She deeply understood the manifestations of Compassion fatigue.

According to F. Oshberg, MD, the first thing you should grasp is that it is a process. Not only do you wake up fatigued and devoid of any physical or emotional energy on one day, but you also wake up exhausted and devoid of any physical or emotional vitality on the next day. Compassion fatigue develops gradually over time, requiring weeks or even years to manifest itself. For most people, it’s an inability to see the good in others, whether you work at home or in an office. Through over-utilization of your compassion skills, your capacity to experience and care for others gradually deteriorates. You might also suffer emotional blunting, which is when you react to things in a way that is different from what you would expect.

References

Kindness Combats Compassion Fatigue – Think Kindness. (2014, September 15). Think Kindness. https://thinkkindness.org/uncategorized/kindness-combats-compassion-fatigue/#:~:text=Mother%20Teresa%20advocated%20strongly%20for,effects%20of%20their%20caregiving%20work..

Compassion Fatigue: Watch for These Warning Signs | Banner. (2021, June 11). https://www.bannerhealth.com/healthcareblog/teach-me/watch-for-these-key-warning-signs-of-compassion-fatigue#:

Boyd, D. (2017, January 4). Compassion Fatigue. The American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/military/for-practitionersleaders/compassion-fatigue.

What Is Compassion?. (2021, November 1). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-compassion-5207366.

Compassion Definition | What Is Compassion. (n.d.). Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition.

What is the difference between Empathy and Sympathy?

A friend who is experiencing some sort of loss or unpleasant situation feels compelled to sympathize with us and we want it to be a mutually beneficial and encouraging experience. Is there a way to respond to any kind of crisis, whether it’s physical or emotional, in a way that conveys warmth and understanding? Is it sympathy or empathy that we show?

Empathy and sympathy are sometimes conflated, but they are in fact quite distinct. According to Merriam Webster, empathy is the ability to understand another person’s sentiments, but not necessarily share them. Empathy is the capacity or action of entering into or sharing another’s feelings or pursuits. Empathy is the capacity to comprehend another person’s point of view. The idea of projecting one’s feelings is implicit in the concept of empathy. It is possible to have empathy for someone even if you don’t know how they express their feelings because of what you know about them.

Sympathy is defined as a sense of sadness or sorrow for the tragedy of another. Despite the fact that sympathy may not be as warmly accepted as empathy, mournful pity can provide some warmth and comfort in the face of another’s troubles— provided it is delivered with care and sincerity, of course. However, if you feel pity for someone, they may feel alienated from you as a result of your sympathy. Always make an effort to reply to someone in a genuine manner. It’s important to keep in mind the feelings and needs of the individual you’re trying to help, too. Even simply being there in silence can be really beneficial in many situations.

“Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable one.”

– Dr. Brené Brown

Empathy may bring people together and make them feel included, but sympathy generates an uneven power dynamic and can lead to increased isolation and detachment, according to Dr. Brené Brown. It’s a bad consequence given that sympathy is normally a good thing. Dr. Brown explains how to demonstrate empathy in four simple actions. placing yourself in the shoes of another, Listening without making any judgments, Being able to recognize in another individual’s feelings that you yourself may have experienced, Assuring the other person that you can identify with their feelings.

“Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”

– Dr. Brené Brown

As Brené Brown points out, empathy requires us to remember or reflect on unpleasant feelings. Feelings such as frustration, anxiety, and confusion are being recognized as we try to understand another person’s perspective. Opting for empathy over sympathy or complete disengagement can be challenging at first, but the long-term benefits far outweigh these difficulties. Because when people are confronted with a problem or a difficult situation, they frequently aren’t looking for a quick fix. There is a possibility that they are searching for someone who can help them feel less isolated in their efforts to solve the problem. Someone who has been through a similar situation may be what they are looking for. To connect with someone, you have to be able to empathize with their situation.

References

‘Sympathy’ Vs. ‘Empathy’: What’s the Difference? | Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/sympathy-empathy-difference.

RSA Short: Empathy – Brené Brown. (2013, December 10). Brené Brown. https://brenebrown.com/videos/rsa-short-empathy/.

Sympathy Vs. Empathy. (n.d.). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/202007/sympathy-vs-empathy.