On most days, as a baby boomer, I proudly embrace my age. On those other days, depending on the situation, I deny it, fight it, or pray to make peace with it. Yes, Virginia, getting older is real, and I have started to experience the inevitable tell-tale signs of it.
So at this stage in my life, and because I also have aging family members, I felt compelled to read Paths to Healthy Aging, a workbook by Mehrdad Ayati, a physician, and Arezou Azarani. After all, I want to adapt a healthier lifestyle as the aging process sets in: a process that will continue to unfold regardless of my feelings about it.
The book is very senior-friendly. It is written in clear, straight-forward language and has large font and pictures, which my aging eyes much appreciated. I take great pleasure in not having to squint.
While reading, I felt like I was having a nice, informal conversation with the authors in my living room. Their warmth and compassion clearly comes across. And Ayati, a geriatrician, writes that he spends a significant amount of time with his patients during their appointments, which we all know is a rarity these days.
And honest conversations are key at my age. Now that most of my friends and I are “mature” women, our conversations intentionally or unintentionally include discussions about our health issues: our current symptoms, treatment plans, prescriptions, side effects, diet, weight-loss struggles, vitamin intake. We have our doctors’ appointments and diagnostic tests, and then we get together to debrief.
As for vitamins, Ayati’s take on vitamins and minerals is the same as all of my doctors’. But we live in a world that constantly and convincingly markets quick fixes for our ailments and our sluggishness. I take doctor-prescribed vitamins, but every now and then, I admit, I am lured in to try additional non-prescribed vitamins and minerals that guarantee results. When I write those on my medication list, my doctors firmly insist that I do not need to take them, regardless of countless testimonies and recommendations. Ayati agrees. If you “are not deficient in vitamins and minerals,” he writes, “it is not beneficial to take dietary supplements. The bottom line: Get your vitamins from food rather than supplements.”
Similarly, when it comes to diet and weight loss, Ayati believes in a slow and steady approach for successful, long-term results. So as tempting as a smoothie diet is for quickly losing a few pounds, Ayati recommends that his patients lose one pound a month and eat in moderation. “If they lose the weight slowly their bodies don’t go into shock and there is a much stronger chance that they will lose the weight and keep it off for years to come,” he writes. “Consequently, the stress will be minimal on their body and mind.”
This approach seems almost too easy for me, and definitely takes the stress and frustration out of losing weight.
The authors also highlight the importance of routinely exercising, having an active social life, and having a strong support system. All of these can prevent or lessen feelings of isolation and depression.
In a friendly tone, Ayati shares inspirational and teachable moments from his own family. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and will frequently refer to it in the future. It provides a solid base of knowledge about healthy aging that will help me care for myself and my family members in our golden years — even if sometimes I feel less than sparkling.
Paths to Healthy Aging
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 2014
Paperback, 176 pages