Health or wellness?

Q: What is the difference between “health” and “wellness”? I thought they were the same thing.

A: Being healthy and being well are generally accepted as the same which adds to the confusion. These are both adjectives, but the nouns “health” and “wellness” mean different things. Health is defined as the absence of any illness, mental or physical. To be considered healthy you need to be of sound mind and body. The term “wellness” applies to a certain lifestyle, which promotes health, so it is more about good lifestyle practices and preventative medicine. It could include such things as a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and measures to combat social isolation. According to the World Health Organization, wellness is the action while (good) health is the desired outcome.

Although there is nothing wrong with this, I find it slightly annoying that medical clinics have now become “wellness” clinics, implying that they are not so concerned about treating illness as in preventing it. Responsibility is put on your shoulders. There is a saying that “prevention is better than cure,” but this is not always possible. Many illnesses are hereditary or purely bad lack, so lifestyle is not a factor. Accidents can lead to lifelong disability. In addition, if a person has an unhealthy lifestyle, blaming them for this is not helpful. There are still individuals who exercise every day, eat a healthy diet and abstain from cigarettes and alcohol and still die young of cancer.

The term “wellness’ has also been used as a marketing tool and has been appropriated by some “alternative medicine” practitioners who may use pseudo-scientific methods, so you may not be able to tell by the name if the clinic or website is reputable.

Q: My mother was recently diagnosed with dementia. Do you have a few simple tips for the best way to cope and keep her safe?

A:Give her simple choices for eating, activities etc. For example: “Do you want a salad or a sandwich”?

Dispense medications yourself, or at least have the pharmacist put them in a special bubble pack

Don’t argue with her. Agree, even it is sounds stupid. Be patient. Let her repeat herself even if you have heard the story many times before. You may need to repeat yourself as her short-term memory will be the first to go.

Keep the environment safe. Make sure she doesn’t wander out of the house on her own, as getting lost is a common symptom. Keep an eye on her when she is out of the house. Don’t let her cook without supervision as she may leave burners on.

Sing an old song. People with dementia can remember songs and music better than other things.


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