Dr. Vis Blog 3 – Other Aspects of Growing Old Gracefully

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I am flattered by the attention and readership for  Blog 2 on “Growing old gracefully”

There have been some interesting and insightful comments to which I will respond in this Blog 3.

One important comment was that my Blog did not cover the topic of physical well being as one of the contributors to graceful ageing. Indeed this is a big slip on my part.

Obviously there is no mental well being without physical well being. In fact the two are closely connected. There are many steps to follow with regard to physical well being. Briefly they cover:

a) having a purpose in life

b) get proper and adequate sleep

c) get a proper diet

d) get good and adequate exercise. 

 Before we delve deeper into these 4 aspects listed above, we need to do something very important. We all assume that our state of health is good. Some of us even take pride in saying “I have never been to a Doctor for a check up”. This is totally wrong. You MUST know your actual state of health.

Doing the routine health check every year is like condition monitoring of equipment. You can detect problems earlier and fix them.

In a study published in 2018, 1190 persons were subjected to detailed medical diagnostic tests and the results are highly disturbing.

A huge 14.4% had significant issues requiring immediate attention and another 40% had conditions that called for long term monitoring. Over 9% had undetected coronary artery diseases, 2% undiagnosed tumors or cancer. Another 2.5 % had undiagnosed aneurysms which are quick killers.

I particularly worry about ship staff, both officers and crew. We all know that a big majority of them are obese, overweight and not in physically good condition. Work on ships are not labor intensive any more. Food is abundant and perhaps eating more is an escapism for a life away from family.

I do not propose to write on all aspects of  this issue, listed in an earlier paragraph of this Blog. But I do want to emphasize the importance of sleep.

It should NOT be a matter of pride to say that I need only 5 hours sleep. You actually DO NEED 8 hours of sleep. Sleep resets your mental and physical health everyday. You will make better decisions, you will handle emotional and social challenges with greater equanimity. Your immunity system, metabolism, regulation of appetite  will all be helped. On the flip side, less than 5 to 6 hours of sleep will hasten Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and even cancer. Anxiety disorders and depression conditions will visit you earlier. If you have been told you snore, please consider getting a sleep study. Many people have sleep apnea, a problem where they don’t breathe during sleep. It is dangerous because of the consequences on the heart and can lead to heart failure if left untreated.

Cancer screening also becomes a part of routine health checkups as one gets older. A baseline colonoscopy at age 50, PSA during annual checkup for men are some of the basic tests that are done to evaluate and follow the person’s physical health. 

In good times, it is easy to be too busy to focus on your health.

 Huge amount of research is going on in extending the longevity using stem cells, gene therapies, CRISPR, Senolytic medicines etc. Most researchers feel that human life can be extended to 120 years. It is important that, if we do live longer, we live in good physical and mental health.

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