40 is the New 60!
Updated: Feb 24
In a world focused on preventative aging, we are surprised when in fact, the inevitable is realized, and voilá! We are older. And what is so perilous about being older anyway?! You have gained wisdom. You have exceptional stories to retell. You really know your body's pleasure areas. Yes, we also have changes reflected on our bodies; however, whoever said that wasn't sexy, beautiful, or a sign of respect? Our older adult demographic (65+) is vital, vibrant, and vivacious; they contribute to more than 30% of the workforce, continue activity in the community and their families, and yes, enjoy intimate and sexual relationships. Well done! Having a healthy body and active relationships is being seen in our older adults also. Becoming 60 is just another chapter in our lives that we can look forward to and enjoy!
So, how do we stay healthy and value ourselves before we reach our older years?! And, what about the most precious part of us: our brains. Dementia can begin forming 20 years prior to visible signs and medical conditions that are a culmination of years of inactivity, overeating, and overmedicating.
Currently, 40 to 54-year-olds spend more than $17 billion on plastic surgeries, $84 billion on anti-aging creams, and over $6 billion on exercise equipment to look great. While I love the enthusiasm to look the best we can, I wonder what we are doing comprehensively to truly keep our bodies, minds, and brains intact?
Not to be negative but midlife hypertension, physical inactivity, depression, smoking, drinking, obesity, and social isolation are a few contributors to not only wrinkles and health issues such as limited sexual arousal but also to forms of dementia. Neuroplasticity (or in English, brain health) changes with age; however, we can keep our minds strong! Our brains need stimulation to keep those synapses firing. These exercises may include:
healthy oxygen metabolism (exercise, not marathons but just daily movement)
attention focus (meditation, calming moments, connecting with nature)
new engaged learning (not crosswords but actual learning something new)
I won't bore you with neuroscience and how oxidative stress and protein saturation impede neuro-health, but a daily walk in the fresh air, turning off those phones and computers hours before bed, and reading a real book with paper pages or listening to an audiobook of an area of interest in learning will begin to stave off cognitive decline as well as keeping your healthy.
Now, let's get down to a more subjective topic (which happens to be my favorite): medications--either prescriptive or "over the counter" that you take daily. According to research, 30% of adults (18-60) are taking more than five prescriptions simultaneously (polypharmacy) and those age 65+ are reaching 62%! Yes, 62%! We have prescriptions for the enhancement of prescriptions! If your anti-depressant pill is not helping you, well, let's take another to support it. While each medical case is unique, and I don't minimize medical conditions, treatments, and prescriptive care, we must ask ourselves why we are taking so many anti-depressants, sleeping pills, chronic pain pills, anti-anxiety, and so many antipsychotic pills. These drugs in our bodies all at once. Then, add to that daily use of over-the-counter anti-acids plus pills for minor aches or other daily "ingestibles" and we wonder why we have brain fogginess or secondary health conditions. Polypharmacy leads to injury, co-morbidity, and early mortality! Analgesia, or blurred awareness, is prominent with opioids and antipsychotics. Remember that 30% of adults ingest multiple prescriptions?! Well, that number doubles as you age! Before you throw away all your medications after reading this, please consult with your medical provider or a naturopath. Read up on mental health conditions for yourself. Find alternatives like a walk, or yoga, or meditation, or playing, or laughter, or dancing, or reading, or cooking dinner with friends. Whew!
So, after all that, and adding all the bombardment of advertisements and articles on healthy living, dementia, and anti-aging, where does that leave us?! Take a deep restorative breath. Ahhh! Realize the depth of our own bodies' incredible and amazing abilities to heal, to keep us active and functioning, and energetic. While doing all we can to look great with creams, surgery, and exercise equipment, being active shows a deep sense of self-care. I am just asking that we also take a look comprehensively at our medications, our daily movement, our daily joy, and laughter to find time to stimulate brain health. We are such beautiful human beings from the moment we are born to our last breath! Aging is what we do from birth. You would think we would be great at it by age 60! Mid-life, ages 40-60, is a great starting point to recalibrate, refocus, and rededicate ourselves to healthy living for our mind, body, and spirit. Our new starting point:
Rethink those multiple antipsychotics.
Understand the reasoning behind taking daily anti-acids
Remember your love of play, dance, singing, or laughter
Take moments to enjoy your stillness
Re-spark your love life and the joys of intimacy.
Above all, remember today is a new day to connect with your body, mind, spirit...and partner!
Wishing you wellness!
Coupland, Carol AC, Trevor Hill, Tom Dening, Richard Morriss, Michael Moore, and Julia Hippisley-Cox. "Anticholinergic drug exposure and the risk of dementia: a nested case-control study." JAMA internal medicine 179, no. 8 (2019): 1084-1093.
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Holmquist, S., Nordström, A., & Nordström, P. (2020). The association of depression with subsequent dementia diagnosis: A Swedish nationwide cohort study from 1964 to 2016. PLoS medicine, 17(1), e1003016.
Kivimäki, M., & Singh-Manoux, A. (2018). Prevention of dementia by targeting risk factors. The Lancet, 391(10130), 1574-1575.
Park, E., Baek, S. H., Bang, K. S., Kim, N. H., & Takimoto, K. (2019). Fermented garlic extract increases oxygen consumption and UCP-1 mRNA expression in human adipose-derived stem cells. Cell Journal (Yakhteh), 21(3), 357.