Kids are popping more prescription drugs these days.
That development, reinforced by a story in this morning’s paper, is not startling, but it did make me reflect on how medical care has changed in my lifetime.
Like most kids growing up, I was more or less oblivious to medical care. If you got sick, you either rested at home and drank plenty of fluids or went to a doctor who more than likely sent you home to rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you got really sick, he might order some medicine for you or give you a shot. If you got really, really sick, you might actually end up in a hospital.
I don’t recall a lot of hand-wringing about the cost of medical care, although it’s possible my parents did have some concerns in that area. I certainly don’t remember the cost of health care driving people into bankruptcy. Nor was there a steady barrage of information in those areas, except for the promise of polio vaccines and fluoridation, both of which were introduced in my childhood.
The generation before mine went through the Great Depression, largely battling disease without even the benefit of antibiotics.
So now comes the report that the rate of prescription drug use among kids to fight stomach aches and heartburn is on the rise. At least part of the increase is blamed on the growing rate of obesity among children in our country.
Given the proliferation of TV advertising for costly prescription drugs for everything from acid reflux to erectile dysfunction, it’s no surprise that our pill-popping culture is continually looking for pharmaceutical solutions to problems that either didn’t exist a generation or two back or weren’t seen as worthy of such drastic intervention.
Remember these changes as you craft your family’s history. Dig out those stories of doctors who actually visited patients in their homes, accepted hogs as payment or who prescribed patience and common sense instead of the latest wonder drug.
Placing your ancestors’ lives in the proper perspective may help you do the same with yours.