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Getting Older: The Inevitable

Steven F. Hotze, M.D.

People racing around the office, showing the passage of time.

Getting older: It is an inevitable “disease” that plagues us all at some point, and for your executives, age can become their biggest competitor and your company’s biggest threat. With age often comes declining health associated with symptoms such as fatigue, lack of initiative, weight gain and high blood pressure. As a corporate wellness leader, it is crucial that you empower your employees, and especially your executives, with the knowledge and preventative health care measures before and during midlife in order to achieve fiscal health for your business.

Specifically, there are four dangerous trends affecting your business that can be addressed through preventive, natural approaches to health.

  1. Rising Health Care Costs: Traditional, employer-sponsored health care costs have increased 131 percent over the last decade. There are many reasons for this including the fact that physicians are seeing a significant increase in malpractice insurance and administrative costs. Although you are paying more for employee coverage, your employees are still requiring several sick days a year. If you keep doing what you have been doing, then you will keep getting what you have been getting.
  2. Low Productivity Due to Presenteeism: Have you ever noticed that certain employees seem to have a much lower productivity rate than others? Presenteeism, an employee who works at a lower productivity rate due to health reasons, results in an annual cost of $6,721 per employee. A common misconception among employers is that employees who are absent due to illness are a bigger threat when in fact presenteeism is 10 times as costly. Several studies have shown that the top contributors for presenteeism health conditions are anxiety, depression, migraines, diabetes, arthritis, and back and neck pain.
  3. Stress and Fatigue: It affects employees of all ages, but especially those going through the change of life. The annual cost of lost productivity to employee fatigue is $136 billion. One of the culprits for chronic fatigue is the inability to get a good night’s rest. Approximately 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by sleep problems. Lack of sleep ultimately results in employees with decreased mental function and performance. Additionally, employees facing high stress levels are weakening their adrenal glands, which produce cortisol, the hormone that helps cope with stress. The more stress an individual is under, the more their adrenal glands are under attack leading to chronic and recurring illnesses.
  4. Absenteeism: The annual cost to you per employee is $661 due to missed work days. A 2009 study conducted by Dr. Ron Loeppke found that lost productivity costs due to presenteeism and absenteeism are 2.3 times higher than direct health costs.

Traditional employee insurance plans are really just “sick care” plans that cover pharmaceutical drugs, which merely mask the symptoms of underlying ailments and disease .An astonishing 750,000 people are hospitalized annually due to adverse reactions from FDA approved drugs. As an alternative, many employers are now beginning to offer healthcare benefits with alternative approaches to health that take a proactive instead of reactive approach to employee health.

It’s All About the Hormones

There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and hormonal decline. As we age, our bodies naturally slow down hormone production. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) replenishes what your body is missing with hormones that are molecularly identically to the hormones your body makes.

Forty percent of employees complain of fatigue, which leads to decreased productivity. This problem is most commonly a cause of thyroid deficiency or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is most effectively treated with natural dessicated thyroid – not covered by most employer health care plans. As mentioned, insufficient amounts of cortisol function can become a precursor to several other illnesses in addition to causing chronic fatigue. This can easily be addressed through bioidentical cortisol supplementation. More than likely, this is not covered by your company’s health insurance plan either. Do you really want to keep your employees from receiving an inexpensive hormone that may affect between one and four million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all because it’s not covered by insurance?

Use Food as Your Medicine

There can be an 80 percent reduction in chronic disease from maintaining a healthy eating program. Consider hosting a lunch-and-learn for your employees with a dietician. Hosting an information session over lunch is a great way to encourage a healthy diet that consists mostly of fruits and vegetables along with lean proteins.

Always Take your Vitamins

In addition to a healthy diet, employees should be educated on the importance of vitamin and mineral supplementation. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is much like minimum wage: barely enough to make a living and certainly not enough to ensure a high quality of life. The RDA was created in 1941 as a preventative measure towards scurvy and rickets – two diseases that are not a concern for most people. No matter what type of health your staff members are in, it’s important that they take a high-potency multivitamin without unnecessary fillers like sugar. Many people will use the excuse that vitamins and minerals, like most preventive health measures, are not covered by typical insurance plans. Look at it this way, is your oil change covered by insurance? No, but it’s necessary to keep your car running. When developing corporate wellness plans, make sure that vitamin and mineral supplementation is included.

You’ve got to move it!

Encourage your employees to engage in at least 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise. Most Americans practice a sedentary lifestyle resulting in weight gain, back and neck problems and increased levels of stress. Exercise improves moods, helps with stress relief, and helps prevent illness. Consider providing a stipend for gym memberships or even providing a gym at the office.

More than likely the dramatic increase in health care costs has adversely affected your bottom line. Do you really want to continue pouring valuable corporate dollars into a system that is expensive and ineffective? Consider implementing a health and wellness plan for your employees that goes beyond checking blood pressure levels and get your employees on a path of health and wellness. This year is the year to partner with employees and show them that you have an interest in their health and wellbeing rather than simply offering them a system that only puts a band-aid over their symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause. Instead of helping your team play defense against disease, why not switch them to offense? Healthy employees will ultimately lead to a healthier outcome, and income, for everyone.

About The Author

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., is the founder and CEO of Hotze Health & Wellness Center in Houston. Dr. Hotze has helped thousands of executives get on a path of health and wellness naturally using a common-sense approach to health.

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