This time of year is one of reflection of happenings of years past and of plans of new beginnings. And so this blog seemed the next natural step in my mission to share with you information, know-how, ideas, solutions and my somewhat different perspective to help you age well. If you are 30 or 40, why should you be concerned with aging?
First, the slippery slope starts at 20, at about the time development stops. Not 60, nor 80.
Secondly, just as you are encouraged to start a long-term retirement plan early, investing in your health today will ensure you have the energy and vigor to enjoy the independent life. This is not about money; not your expensive health insurance plan but your low-cost or almost free, participatory self-investment plan.
There is urgency to considering health as a life-time investment. Look around you. The Center for Disease Control puts the proportion of unhealthy people in the US at 66%. It was 55% five years ago. Extend that curve and see where it takes you. Labeled as epidemics, obesity even in children, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, bone loss, compromised balance, depression, dementia are a few of today’s chronic illnesses. Medical advances treat symptoms, not the cause. They cannot stop the trend.
As I looked around me, I wondered was there perhaps a common cause for the variety of disorders that are now the chief causes of poor health? Gyms did not exist before the 1970s. What exercise did people do before that? What kept some elderly living longer, some into remarkably healthier, active old age? Why are some people now getting sick younger with disorders previously associated with aging?
Born to Greek parents in Alexandria, Egypt, my father had gone there as a young family doctor to treat infectious diseases. Very early on my sister and I were surrounded by discussion of health disorders, injuries, patients, diagnostic procedures and what worked or did not. These skills and this apprenticeship formed the foundation of my education. As a pharmacologist, I gained respect for the life-saving value of drugs but also of their dangerous side-effects or interactions. How the brain regulates the hormone response to stress opened the window to the wonders of how it works. When astronauts went into space, questions about how the forces of the universe like gravity interact with the human body became my passion. It became clear that astronauts in space and aging earthlings have much in common. We had lessons to learn that could explain and help people age well on Earth.
My comprehensive wellness philosophy is based on what I learned by observing astronauts return from space, my ground-based space research in inactive volunteers, stress research and the apprenticeship of growing up in a household of doctors.
I wrote technical papers and spoke to students and scientists. Books, articles and public speaking reached more of the general public. But what I know can help a lot more people. Through the web I will lay out what I know then let you decide how you want to use it. Join the discussion. Together we can turn this ground-swell of concerned people into a virtual healthy aging revolution.
To all my readers out there, thank you for your support.