Knowledge about human health outgrew the size of a single textbook long ago. Today our understanding of prenatal health alone could fill a small library, from fetal wound healing to the effects of air pollution, X-rays, even methamphetamines on fetal growth.
But if you are over the age of 90, the answers are few and far between. Ann Johansson/for The Star-LedgerHal Peoples, 94, lawn bowls at the Laguna Woods Village retirement community in Laguna Woods, Calif.
The efficacy of dialysis for chronic kidney disease? Unknown.
Heart surgery outcomes? Unknown.
Risks from colonoscopy, high cholesterol or chemotherapy?
No one really knows, even though nonagenarians are the fastest-growing age group around the world.
Why don't we know? Because no one knows where to find healthy active 90-year-olds....it seems we only know where to find the sicker ones!
In the USA, we have generally ignored the "real" aging population - focusing instead on our bias that all "old people" are frail, needing help and afraid of doing anything that may lead to getting hurt. So we only look at the frail, weak and less active among the older generations.
We need to put a major focus on healthy aging and prevention..we are a country obsessed with disease and "cures" but the old saying about that "ounce of prevention" works for all ages. We say we have a health care system but we have a disease care sytem. We need to stop spending all the time and money on cures and start spending on prevention of the problems as well.
As the article concludes:
All the cures in the world...will mean little until we understand how and why we age:
"Let's say you cure a 70-year-old woman of breast cancer, but she's frail, she's in a nursing home and she has Alzheimer's. Have you really done anything to increase her quality of life?"
As a teacher of movement, I started working with seniors two years ago and found that age is irrelevant when it comes to improving a seniors quality of life. I know this may be a bold statement however through my method of teaching balance, flexibility and range of motion exercises, seniors respond and improve.
Simply stated, what I know about active 90 year olds (and other seniors of course) is that they want to stay active. They just need a program that:
makes sense to them
helps them use it as more than exercise
help them work at their level - regardless of what it is, and improve their capabilities
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