We really are in control of our destiny.
Daylesford Crossing, where my dad lives, had a visiting author, Dr. Richard Landry, MPH, come and speak this evening. There were a couple of notable takeaways that I’d like to share from his presentation:
- In our country, we spend 3-4% on preventable healthcare and the rest on the treatment of chronic diseases
- According to The MacArthur Foundation study on successful aging, 70% of the physical difference and 50% of the intellectual difference between those who age successfully and those who age by experiencing a slow decline lived out with chronic illness were due to lifestyle choices…Those who lead sedentary lives, don’t take care of themselves mentally, spiritually or otherwise will live nearly HALF of their lives with chronic illnesses – most of which can be either forestalled or prevented simply by making different choices in our lives.
- If you want to live longer and die shorter, you must live your life like the fall foliage we all appreciate: as we age, we grow more beautiful individually and collectively with all the other trees, we become a stunning display. And when our time arrives, we die just as the leaves fall from the tree.
Physically speaking we have evolved from hunters and gatherers. They used their bodies. They moved ALL THE TIME. On average they walked between 15,000 and 23,000 steps a day. They had to always be thinking, innovating to stay one step ahead of their environment which was full of predators. They found that they were more effective working as a community rather than individually. And they had no formal schooling, so the younger folks learned from the older folks and the older folks were held in high regard and had a purpose for their entire lives. This is how we lived for a very very long time. It is only since the industrial revolution that we have dramatically veered away from this lifestyle.
We have invented all sorts of things to keep us from moving – cars, escalators, moving sidewalks, TV, etc. Our society has become extremely youth focused, therefore marginalizing a huge segment of the older population. As we age, we tend to become more isolated as friends die off, move and spouses die. And we start to buy in to the belief that our prime has passed. All of these attitudes and societal norms have contributed to a huge rise in chronic disease. Couple this with the fact that science has us all living longer and you have a tsunami on our hands.
In my next blog post I will write about some of the ways you can stem this tide and, at any age, live your life the way it was meant to be lived. Age is just a number. It’s how you internalize that and the choices you make that has the biggest difference in how you will age.