For those lucky enough to live into their 70s or 80s, their chances of enjoying those years with good health and mental vigor are highly dependent on habits and behaviors practiced early in life.
“Aging is inevitable. It’s an opportunity. “How old we get depends on what we do.”
Inspired by his grandfather’s battle with dementia, Friedland has spent nearly 50 years as a neurologist and researcher studying the causes of neurological disorders and seeking new ways to treat and prevent them. In addition to examining patients with a focus on cognitive neurology, behavioral neurology, and geriatric neurology, his ongoing research examines the microbes in the gut and mouth, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative diseases. We are investigating the relationship with the onset of disease.
Based on this research, Friedland says that stockpiling cognitive, physical, psychological, and social health can help people stay healthy well into later life.
Friedland acknowledges that certain physical declines are inevitable with age, and that genetics predispose to certain diseases, but in many cases these reserves prevent disease or counteract its effects. We believe it can alleviate, slow down age-related decline, and help older people recover from illness. accidents and illnesses.
“Genetics plays a role in our health, but it’s not the whole story. “We are working to slow or lessen heart disease, diabetes, cognitive and neurological diseases that otherwise cause permanent decline in health,” says Friedland. We can help you recover from possible life events.”
Each of the four Friedland factors described below is dependent on other factors. Friedland offers tips for increasing reserves in each region. Getting into the habit of building these reserves will maximize your chances of staying active and healthy as you age.
cognitive reserve – The brain’s ability to function effectively, solve problems and make decisions.
Since the brain controls all systems in the body, it makes sense that a healthy brain supports other preliminary factors (physical, psychological and social).
Keep your brain healthy by learning new things and seeking opportunities throughout your life to challenge your thinking. Learn a new language or a new skill, such as an instrument or crochet. Play chess and other games. Activities that involve learning and strategy strengthen the brain.
“Watching television is not a good activity because it is completely passive and does not require participation. Reading is a better choice because it requires engagement,” Friedland said. That’s good for memory and attention.”
physical stockpile – Health of the cardiovascular, nervous, musculoskeletal and other systems of the body.
These reserves depend on eating the right foods, engaging in daily physical activity, and receiving regular health care.
A diverse diet of healthy foods supports both your body and the microbiome, the microbes that live inside and outside your body and are essential to your overall health. , recommends a diet low in saturated fat and mostly plant-based. Improving your diet can also improve your microbial health, which helps your own health.
“I call it gene therapy in the kitchen,” Friedland said. “By making the best choices in your food, you can change the genetic makeup of your microbiome and improve your overall health in just two weeks.
According to Friedland, just 30 minutes of exercise each day is enough to improve your physical health, regardless of the weather or conditions. Of course, more is better, and when you combine physical activity with social interaction and cognitive activity by playing sports such as golf and tennis, the benefits are doubled.
It is also important to take measures to protect yourself from injury and illness. Wear a helmet when biking, wash your hands, and avoid exposure to toxins.
It’s also important to get enough quality sleep each night, practice good dental hygiene, avoid excessive alcohol, and get regular checkups.
Polypharmacy is also an issue to avoid. Friedland says that as we age, prescriptions for multiple health problems accumulate, and they can interact and alter each other’s effectiveness. If you are taking multiple prescriptions, have all prescriptions evaluated by your healthcare provider on a regular basis.
psychological reserve – Healthy mental state without agitation, anxiety or depression.
Poor mental health can affect your ability to interact with others and maintain your physical health. Practice a positive mental attitude, participate in activities that are meaningful to you, and manage your stress through meditation and other methods.
“Depression is common in older people, and it can lead to memory problems,” said Friedland. “Physical factors such as lack of sleep and vitamin deficiencies can contribute to depression. Lack of social interaction and physical activity can also cause or exacerbate depression.
social reserve – The ability to function in relationships and society.
Being with others motivates people to take care of themselves and encourages them to maintain healthy behaviors. A positive relationship can be with a spouse, a group of friends, or a professional colleague.
‘Studies show that dementia is more common in people who become less socially active later in life,’ said Friedland. “Humans need relationships with others to stay healthy.”
Social involvement can go hand-in-hand with other types of activity by including friends in physical exercise, games, crafts, or work. You can increase your desire to be the target.
Ideally, you start developing habits that contribute to these reserves early in life, but Friedland says it’s possible to increase your reserves and improve your health at any age. .
“Aging is inevitable,” Friedland said. “The chance to live should be perceived as a chance: a chance to manage lifestyle factors to maximize survival, health, fitness and meaning as we age.”
More detailed advice from Friedland that might help people live longer, healthier lives, and a deeper discussion of why he makes these recommendations, can be found in his book Unaging: The four factor that impact how you age.” The book, published in his October by Cambridge University Press, was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of his five best books on aging and retirement to be published in 2022.