Compressed Morbidity: “Live Long and Die Fast”
Every once in while you hear or read something that has a profound effect on you. It makes you think about things differently. I had such an experience about 10 years ago when I read about the concept of compressed morbidity. You might remember this being discussed during one of your visits to H3, but in case you need it, here is a quick refresher. Morbidity is illness, so compressing morbidity would be to compress or shorten the period of, or the duration of illness. So the basic concept of compressed morbidity is that, people who live a healthy lifestyle tend to live longer and die quicker, on the other hand people who live an unhealthy lifestyle tend to die younger but are sicker longer. By “living longer, but dying quicker” the period of illness and its impact on quality of life is reduced.
The reason this concept resonated with me is that unfortunately my father passed away at 67 from emphysema. A relatively young man whose quality of life was destroyed long before he died. Seeing him go through that gave me a greater appreciation of the importance of staying healthy as long as possible. Recently after discussing this concept in class, a guest shared with me this video (Seen above). It is part of a campaign in Canada to promote a healthy lifestyle. While the phrase, compressed morbidity, is never used, it makes the point graphically and effectively. As you watch the video clip, you will no doubt agree that if you could plan it, you would want to be the man on the left side of the split screen. And while there are no guarantees, following the principles of a healthy lifestyle; eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, getting enough sleep etc. gives you the best chance of living the long, vibrant, chronic disease free lifestyle like the guy on the left side of the screen.