PERSPECTIVES: The Wealth Health Relationship and How It Affects Us All
I am really excited to begin a new series called PERSPECTIVES, with a focus on gathering real-life perspectives to help shed further realities on the subject of money.
This series is aimed at offering deep insight whilst also inspiring and encouraging our readers to get better with money and ultimately seek Financial Joy and Independence in their lives.
My good friend, Dr. Nikki, kicks off this exciting series with The Wealth Health Relationship from her perspective as a doctor.
Welcome, Dr. Nikki. Talk to us about the Wealth Health Relationship and How It Affects Us All –
Some may think that as a doctor, I don’t have a lot to say about money. It's not in my remit. However, this is where I will strongly disagree with you.
My name is Dr. Nikki Ramskill, and I blog as The Female Money Doctor.
Money is fundamental to everything we do in life – and in my practice, I see its effect everywhere.
I have been a fully qualified doctor since 2009, and the more experienced I get, the more I see how money and health are hugely intertwined.
Just the other day, I visited a woman at home with clinical depression. Her benefits had been stopped because she lacked the motivation to sort out the paperwork.
Lack of motivation to do anything is one of the key symptoms of severe depression. This then put her into a downward spiral of being threatened with eviction from her landlord because she couldn’t pay the rent.
The flat was in a less than desirable area because she couldn’t afford anywhere better. She was often going hungry or relying on food banks for support. This was worsening her depressive state and making it harder to treat her.
I therefore firmly believe that as a doctor serving society, I am well placed and duty bound to talk on this subject.
The rest of this post goes into how I think money affects our health, and in doing so, I hope it gives you the motivation to start sorting out your own finances with a greater sense of urgency.
There is no magical knight in shining armour to help!
If money were no object, would you shop where you do now? Maybe yes, but would you buy what you do now?
I would love to have fresh ingredients delivered to my door, perhaps organic. I would shop in my local farm shops and markets. I could have the best and finest ingredients if I wanted to.
If you’ve ever looked at supermarket offers, you’ll notice that a lot of it is on convenience food, pre-packaged, high in salt and high in sugar.
Very rarely will you have offers on good cuts of meat or vegetables. If you’re a single mother on very little income, then it is understandable why it is so tempting to go for these.
This is the first, and probably the most obvious way in which money and health are intertwined – the ability to make healthier choices at the check-out.
Indeed, we all know that what we put into our bodies has a dramatic effect on our health. Maybe not right away, but over time it will.
Obesity, cancer and tooth problems are just some of the ways in which a poor diet can affect health. This, in turn, may lead to a premature exit from the labour market and the need for help with benefit support.
Children on poor diets are severely affected developmentally. Obesity can lead to problems in the future, such as heart disease and strokes.
In America, heart attacks are being recorded in an ever-increasing younger population, and the UK is following suit.
In the other direction, not enough food causes malnutrition and poor brain development and function. Hungry children cannot concentrate at school and tend to be more disruptive.
Sometimes it is due to a health problem like cystic fibrosis, but sometimes it is due to simply not eating enough.
It even affects unborn foetuses. There is evidence to show that poor nutrition leads to poor cognitive function in the unborn child, stunting their performance and potential in later life.
Malnutrition can contribute to congenital birth abnormalities such as spina bifida.
Pregnant women are strongly advised to take folic acid supplements during pregnancy, but in fact, it needs to be PRIOR to getting pregnant in the first place.
400mcg daily at least 3 months prior to the pregnancy is the recommendation (5mg daily if you’re on epileptic medication).
However, with 50% of UK pregnancies being unplanned, it is understandable why this recommendation is not being heeded.
Obese women are far more likely to suffer from adverse pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, massive obstetric haemorrhage and post-op wound infection.
Pregnancy is risky business in the first place, but add to it obesity, and you have a potential recipe for disaster.
Our elderly population in the UK is also suffering. According to the latest OECD report, 18.5% over the age of 75 in the UK live BELOW the poverty line, and 20% of the over-80s are obese.
Poor nutrition and obesity make it harder for the elderly to heal from illness, and in fact, makes them much more likely to fall ill in the first place.
This, in turn, puts added pressure on the NHS and other services and severely limits the quality of life of the individual.
The bottom line is that food costs money. And here we are again with the ‘m’ word. It doesn’t matter how we look at it, Money is the lynchpin.
Many of us aspire to go to the gym, but what if you could also stretch to a personal trainer? Maybe even a yoga instructor who comes to your house?
Would this motivate you more? You could have a gym built into a room in your house or back garden.
For some people, this is already a reality, but what if even some of the cheapest gym memberships are out of reach?
Exercise has been shown to help with all aspects of health, including mental illness. Lack of funds isn’t necessarily a barrier to exercise because running in the local area is of course free.
But is that area safe? Can the individual afford to buy running shoes? What about the people they live with?
Are they surrounded by people who want to be fit and healthy, or are they surrounded by people who smoke and take drugs?
Education plays a huge role in getting people to exercise. For many educated people, we know that exercise is an important part of our lives.
There’s no surprise then that the wealthy tend to be slimmer than those who are not, and affluent celebrities are often seen out and about with yoga mats and personal trainers.
You only have to open a fashion magazine to confirm this.
My education came from a state school in South London.
It was thanks to my own discipline to learn, and the support of my family and teachers that I made it through with good grades and a desire to go to university to become a doctor.
I could so easily have followed some of my peers and not reached my potential.
I know now that there is always something to learn, and that I still don’t feel I have reached my full potential.
I will happily pay for courses and books on self-development because I am educated enough to see the value in doing this.
I am also aware of good nutrition and exercise on the body, and have an understanding of the effect of toxins, such as cigarettes and alcohol have on the internal organs. You don’t need to be a doctor for this.
However, education DOES play a role in health. Money can buy a private education (which is not always superior to state education by the way), and it can give you access to the best professionals.
Tax experts, financial planners, and life coaches all cost money.
The most poorly educated of society tend to end up in low paying, menial jobs. They have to work more hours for longer in order to be able to have a basic standard of living.
Not everyone is destined for an academic life, of course, take Richard Branson for example.
But staying in education that is well suited to the individual can make all the difference between someone who is unemployed on benefits, and who has a skill they can put to good use.
Again, it comes down to environment and association, but money is the invisible lubricant to it all.
Worries about money can lead to serious cases of anxiety and depression.
I know that when I was stressed about my finances in the past I had trouble sleeping. I was often tearful and would notice palpitations at the thought of opening letters or visiting the bank!
I’m most definitely not in a dire situation either. Luckily for me, my job means I can earn more money usually whenever I need to, but I know others are not as fortunate as this.
When I worked in A&E, I often came across patients with money worries on their mind, especially those facing long-term issues with their health, such as living with cancer for example.
The young, or those who work for themselves, are particularly vulnerable.
The former because they don’t tend to have savings, the latter because they don’t get paid if they don’t go to work. Sometimes they’re one and the same person.
Can you imagine the turmoil this would cause? What if you didn’t have the money to cover you in an emergency or while you were off sick?
Living on a financial knife-edge is one of the quickest ways to end in disaster, and yet so many of us in society do this every single day.
Having a mental illness also can lead to financial difficulty.
Individuals with bipolar disorder can have manic episodes where they spend huge amounts of money under the delusion that they are a millionaire, or they are a rich and famous celebrity.
And, like the lady I referred to at the start, depression can lead to such inertia, that just going out to earn money becomes an impossible task.
Poor mental health can lead to poverty, and poverty can lead to poor mental health. It’s a vicious and downward spiral if not interrupted quickly.
So you can see, not having money touches everything and everyone.
It doesn’t matter who you are, money is important. We often judge ourselves on the ability to make money, but this is often missing the point.
Money is a tool to gain access to the things that we want in life.
Good health is just one of those fortunate by-products of having control of money. Just take a look at the longevity of the members of the royal family!
So do yourself and your family a favour. Sort out your money and become financially secure. This is one of the best ways I know of improving your health.
So tell me, how has money affected your health? What are you planning to do about it? What action steps do you need to take now?
My thanks go to The Humble Penny for asking me to write this piece. If you want to hear more from me, my website is https://thefemalemoneydoctor.com
I look forward to meeting you!
Dr. Nikki x
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.