Giving Health Advice for Older People? Don’t Forget the Brain!
Last week I wrote about some very healthy, happy centenarians and talked about a recent study on people aged 100+ that found some commonalities across those living long and well. Today I saw that Dr. Mark Lachs has just come out with a new book called Treat Me, Not My Age which purports to give practical advice on living into very old age while remaining healthy and active. Lachs has two basic categories of things he looks at, which I expected to be physical fitness and mental fitness. Much to my surprise, there is little mention of mental health, but rather an emphasis on creating a safer environment. I ask this question: what good is it to be 100 years old and physically fit if my mind is gone?
While it’s true that many older adults live in homes that are not best structured to support their physical conditions, and there may be appropriate fixes to make, this is exactly the kind of thinking that makes me mad. The idea that your only chance at longevity involves installing a bar in your shower or getting brighter lights in your home or turning up your hearing aid is frankly depressing, while the idea that you can consciously and purposefully engage your brain in ways that maintain and even improve your mind into older age is invigorating.
We know that that Posit Science brain training turns back the clock on your memory loss by about 10 years and improves your everyday life. We know that it improves health-related quality of life measures for up to five years after training. We know it cuts the risk of crashing your car in half. We know that it staves off depression in older people. We even know that people who train have significantly lower medical expenditures for up to 5 years post-training. We don’t know this anecdotally–although we can show you plenty of people who can tell you how it changed their life–we know it because of the dozens of controlled, randomized, rigorous scientific studies that have been conducted and published on our products.
In aging, we need everything in our arsenal: the physical fitness, the diet, the friends and family, the shower bar, and unequivocally–the brain training. So go ahead, put in brighter bulbs and turn the hearing aid up to full volume–but do know that there is much more you can do to take action and have control over your journey into older age.