“Don’t get old,” they said.

Why do people say this? Don’t get old. Getting old sucks. Getting old is hard.

My parents both passed away before the age of 70. My dad was 68 and my mother 61. Over a decade later, I’m of the mindset that getting old is a privilege, a blessing, and that the alternative is worse. But why do older people nearly always say this? What differentiates those who say this with those who don’t?

I see a lot of patients over the age of 65, and they often say to me, “Don’t get old”.  As if anyone has a choice! I have asked why they say this, and I’ve collected over 20 years of answers as a clinician.

The most common answers are as follows:

My body just doesn’t work the way it used to.
I’m in constant pain.
I can’t keep up.
My brain isn’t as sharp as it used to be.
I feel 20 years older than I am.
I move like an old lady.
I can’t bend over to tie my shoes.

These answers all have one thing in common. These complaints can all be positively affected by preventively taking care of one’s body. The truth is, like exercise, eating right, brushing your teeth, and maintaining  personal hygiene, maintenance of your posture, your spine and nervous system is critical to aging well. Research shows that your spinal health impacts your brain health, and if you don’t care for both, you are more likely to have problems when you are older.

Here’s what we know.

-Our elders are nearly always on the same page about getting older.
-The reason that so many say the same thing, is because it is true.
-As adults, we should have learned this truth by now: that some of the future is predictable, and if we listen we can prepare better. (Think investing for retirement)
-There are action steps that can be taken that make us healthier as we age.
-If we take those action steps consistently over time, we will fare better than if we don’t.
-If you start now, it’s better than starting later. “Compound interest” on investments builds to great things over time.

Part of our office philosophy is “learn from those who came before you, and from those who know more than you.” Ignoring this leads people, countries, even civilizations to crumble.

Question: Ask yourself….What makes it so difficult to see the writing on the wall, and take proper action? Who is losing by not listening, and why do we sabotage ourselves by intentionally ignoring the truth?

If the answer is, “Well, it’s hard, expensive, time consuming, inconvenient,” remember that it’s not as hard, expensive, time consuming and inconvenient as many things.

-Living at medical doctors offices is time consuming.
-Home health nurses are expensive.
-Suffering in pain is hard.
-Medications, surgeries, assisted living, not being able to enjoy life are all expensive in dollars and in quality of life.
-Not being able to play with grandkids is demoralizing, upsetting, painful, and also expensive.
-Not being able to climb stairs, change your clothes, make dinner, and drive to the store are all inconvenient.

The Truth Hurts Too.

Nobody wants to be lied to. We all want the truth. Why do we want the truth if we aren’t going to act on it? Regret is what happens when you know the truth but you don’t act on it. Even though sometimes we need help to take the bull by the horns, it’s ok, as long as you get to it in time.

You will always receive the truth from me and my staff. If you don’t want it, go somewhere else. For over 20 years, our office has provided the truth to people so that they can make an informed decision about their health and their future, and I need you to understand that you can trust us because of our commitment to a track record of truth. You don’t have to like us, or listen to us, but you MUST know that we want to help you.

With love and wishes for a long, healthy life,

Dr. Lou