Thoughts on Healthy Aging: Boomers and Aging Parents

What can be fixed by a doctor and what can’t be fixed? What can be addressed by medication and what can’t be?

We boomers only have to look around to see people we know, or maybe even ourselves, indulging in plastic surgery, tooth whitening and remodeling, and much more. Plus we have access, if we have health insurance, to a wide range of medical procedures and medications — some that make us feel better and others that make us feel like we will stay young forever. (We won’t.)

Our parents, with Medicare and access to health care that rivals any in the world, are also conditioned to checking in with doctors and asking them to fix things, even with problems of aging that can’t really be fixed. More difficult still, they go to multiple doctors who try to fix multiple problems with multiple medications and procedures — and in many cases no single physician really has the whole picture.

Several times a week I search for interesting research to report on As Our Parents Age. Each week I am struck by the number of research conclusions that identify associations — strong associations — between health and either diet and exercise. No matter what the other conclusions, much of the time these two, diet and exercise, are right up there near the top.

Most of us, it seems to me, are more interested in getting doctors to fix things or prescribe miracle medications than we are in religiously staying on an exercise schedule and eating carefully. I am as guilty as the next person, taking my blood pressure medication each day, but never quite losing the weight that probably causes the bulk (no pun intended) of the problem.

The other day I heard  someone say, “…well I should walk as much as possible to solve this problem, but I can’t get around to it so the medication will have to do.” Somehow, no matter what our age, we have to move away from this type of viewpoint.

At Web-MD, the article Tips for a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle addresses the dichotomy of medications and lifestyle. Mayo Clinic.com, in a fitness article, identifies seven benefits of regular exercise (number two talks about how exercise helps to fight chronic diseases). Once there, look for other Mayo articles featuring basic steps for improved health. Family Doctor.org has a huge healthy living section with lots of information, though the site has way too many advertisements for my comfort. Over at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the website features a section with more information about healthy living. All of these sites link to other sites.

So there is no lack of information to help us move in the right direction, but there seems to be a lack of will, no matter what our ages.

Many years ago, during another recession, my husband was out of a job and I was earning a beginning teacher’s salary. We were stressed out and worried about money all of the time. Both of us had colds about half of the time and had been back and forth to the doctor’s office multiple times. Then one day my husband suggested that we start jogging — he had been a runner in high school and college — so we did, together, though he was much faster.

A funny thing happened — we had fun, were pretty healthy for the remainder of the recession and neither of us went to the doctor for almost a year. When, quite a few months later, my husband found a job, both of us were healthier.

Oh, to be able to push the reset button and exercise again with that determination.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Healthy Aging: Boomers and Aging Parents

  1. It is amazing how many diseases, pains and ailments can be cured–absolutely cured–by plain old exercise and healthier eating. I love your money-saving tip: Jog to avoid the doctor. Thank you for the reminder.

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    • Well, at least our activity kept us in better health at that point, and I expect that it works a fair amount when the symptoms have more to do with the stress of life than with illness. Thanks for your comment!

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