Healthy Aging:  Invest in Yourself

Healthy Aging: Invest in Yourself


Dr. Ronald M. Podell, MD, a board certified psychiatrist, is the founder and medical director of the Center for Bio-Behaviorial Science in Los Angeles. Podell says the reality of markedly increased longevity means we have to change how we think about aging if we want the last chapter of life to be fulfilling. We must view it as a new opportunity rather than a “swan song.”

Investing in a Healthy Life - Healthy Aging Tips

“For me it’s an investment in my health,” he offered. “My habits were horrible. It was a two-year process to make a switch, and once I started eating well, I lost about 15 pounds. You have to decide whether you’re serious about wanting to not only live longer but also live better. It takes an effort to eat healthy foods and to exercise. These aren’t big things but they’re important things.”

Aging well takes commitment and effort, Podell says. Once he turned 60, he began to pay greater attention to his lifestyle. Now, he sees a personal trainer three times a week and eats fish four times a week. He also scrutinizes food labels for the sodium, sugar and fat content.

Investing in a Healthy Life - Healthy Aging Tips

Podell has many patients well into their 70s and 80s who lead fulfilling lives. “They have good health and enjoy themselves, going to theater and movies, dining out and traveling and still managing their investments or being involved in deals or artistry.”

“You can live longer and look good too,” he also said. “If you have some money in LA, there are a lot of people who know how to help you look years younger. It is very motivating to feel good both from the inside AND from the outside.  Anti-aging doctors are the latest phenomenon. But I would stay away from HGH, steroids and hormone replacement.”

 Healthy Aging Tips

Healthy aging is an investment. It requires being conscientious about how you live your life; staying physically and mentally active requires effort. And the best thing you can do is to make sure you have friends who are in the same stage of life, he says. You can support each other and share personal thoughts. Life is a journey. It’s best to share your experiences and observations with others.

Bill Mitchell, 71, who is former owner and vice chairman of Mitchells, a chain of luxury clothing stores on the East and West coasts, still goes to work every day after 48 years in the family business.

“I hold the door and do whatever else the kids let me do,” he said. “My brother, Jack, and I have passed the torch to the next generation. You could say I’m ‘sun-setting.’”

Investing in a Healthy Life - Healthy Aging Tips

He also gives back by working with organizations, such as Catholic Charities and the Inner City Foundation, in addition to serving on hospital and university boards. Life is good for Mitchell now, but he admits that he faced some serious challenges as he was approaching 50 and had to come to terms with his alcoholic drinking. If he didn’t, there would have been no senior years to enjoy. After an intervention by his wife and family, he went to Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan for rehab. He quit drinking a day at a time and got into a 12-step recovery program, and on June 20, he celebrated 24 years of sobriety.

“I was in middle age and didn’t know how to stop drinking,” he recalled. “It was so bad I was having blackouts and driving with a bottle under the seat of my car.” For Mitchell, Act Two of his life required repairing damage he did in Act One. He put his marriage back together and now spends a lot of time helping young people in their recovery process.

Investing in a Healthy Life - Healthy Aging Tips “My life has changed for the better,” he says. “The greatest paradox in life is the more you give, the more you get back. Early in my sobriety, a fellow told me that God will carry you every day, not just in the good times but in the tough times, too. My dad lived to be 99, so I’ve got a shot. Every day I wake up with joy because I don’t want to wake up with doom and gloom.”

He’s not alone.  An intergenerational poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion commissioned by Home Instead Senior Care explored life satisfaction and happiness across generations. When they compared lives on 10 different measures, including family relationships, health, spirituality, work, finances and community involvement, the Silent/Greatest Generation was the most satisfied with the quality of life, scoring 77.8 on a scale from one to 100—more than the Baby Boomers at 74.7, Generation-X at 73.9 and the Millennials at 76.4.

The poll, titled “Generation to Generation: Gauging the Golden Years,” surveyed 1,224 Millennials, aged 18-32; Gen-Xers, 33-48; Baby Boomers, 49-67; and the Silent/ Greatest Generation, over 68.

by Joe Pisani

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