From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Exploring the Secrets of Healthy Aging

Recently, I attended a conference titled, Aging of the Brain, Aging of the Mind featuring the work of Dr. John P. Walsh from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The topic of aging and mental health is becoming more and more popular as baby-boomers approach and pass the 50 year old mark.

Over the next twenty years, the population of senior citizens will reach record high levels, and include both baby-boomers and their elderly parents. As people increasingly live longer, the quality of their lives will depend upon having both healthy bodies and healthy minds. Here are a few ideas which were shared at the conference.

When stress hormones are activated on a permanent basis, other body systems suffer from deterioration and become vulnerable to degenerative diseases. Since maintaining high levels of stress is commonly a bad habit, we must learn how to reduce our stress level in order to reduce the constant assault of stress hormones. Practicing various relaxation techniques, such as meditation and resisting the urge to let little things upset you, must become a regular part of life.

In summary, while we may not be able to override our genetic make-up, we can protect our minds and bodies from some of the effects of wear-and-tear. Since 1900, the average life span has increased by 28 years. So, if you’re planning to live a long time, there is much to learn about maintaining your mental and physical health. The good news is that we’re learning more about aging gracefully; the other good news is that so long as your mind is healthy, you’ll always be able to learn!

ęCopyright, 1998, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated February 27, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.