Q: What is healthy aging?
Healthy aging is an emerging field in medicine that focuses on the habits and attitudes that promote adding years to your life and life to your years. Until the mid-1980’s, research on aging focused on managing and treating diseases that are common with aging. We now know that many of these diseases are preventable and through the right habits and outlook, we can live vibrant and active life into our 80’s, 90’s and even beyond.
Q: How is healthy aging different from anti-aging?
Anti-aging, in its truest sense, is to stop or reverse the process of aging—something we cannot and will not be able to do until we fully understand the aging process. We do know many of the processes that contribute to aging and by slowing these processes, we can slow our rate of aging and at the same time avoid common age-related diseases. Healthy aging is not fighting inevitable changes but aging the best you can, limited only by normal changes.
Q: Why should you take control of how you age?
According to the latest research, our health and longevity is mostly in our control. That is empowering, yet at the same time, daunting. Since aging is a continual, life-long process, the earlier we adopt life extending and disease preventing healthy habits, the more opportunity we have to influence how we age.
Q: What is “pre-disease?”
Although we typically consider ourselves as either healthy or having a disease, we may be in a stage between these two ends of the spectrum. “Pre-disease” is the grey zone where changes have started taking place that increase your risk of chronic disease and take years off your life before you see or feel any changes. You develop “pre-disease” when you disturb your body’s ideal balance, or homeostasis. Eventually, your body’s resilience for repairing damage and restoring your well balanced equilibrium runs out and you “fall apart.” You can slow “pre-disease” and improve how you feel, even if you are healthy, by making knowledgeable lifestyle choices.
Q: What is the best approach to living your happiest and longest life?
The “secret” to longevity and healthy aging is a lifestyle—one that continually evolves to meet the changing needs of your body. Over the years, your brain processes information differently, digestion slows, sexual function changes, and declining hormones levels and slowing metabolism increase your risk of developing chronic diseases. The same habits that worked in your 20’s will not sustain you in your 60’s.
Q: What are the key lifestyle factors that promote longevity and lifelong health?
The beauty in the factors that promote healthy aging is their simplicity—anybody can apply them. The most salient include nurturing the mind and body through an anti-inflammatory, high anti-oxidant diet, physical activity, adequate sleep, a positive mental outlook, investing in strong personal relationships, and cultivating a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
Q: How can you help people improve how they age?
I often see people confuse diseases such as arthritis, dementia, and heart disease as a part of aging. They, therefore, resign themselves to simply learning to live with these ailments. By providing you the tools and resources to understand what is normal and how to prevent common age-related diseases, I hope to help you live your healthiest life possible. My ultimate goal is to inspire you to transform your experience of aging from passively dreading decline to actively embracing each decade.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish?
Like you, I want to age my best and enjoy life to its fullest. I hope that together we can build a community of successful agers that reshape the image of aging. We can then move toward a culture that celebrates and values the richness and contributions that can only come with age.