AGING WELL: Creating roots of robust longevity
You’re nearing the threshold of aging. Perhaps you are beginning to plan for retirement. You are taking care of your financial picture, maybe working with a financial planner to be sure you are prepared for a secure retirement that allows you to do what brings you joy and satisfaction. Ask yourself this: will your physical health be sound enough to allow you to actually live the life you planned with such care? Will you have the strength and energy to pursue your retirement dreams? Our experience with holistic wellness convinces us that caring for your health is as important to happy retirement as preparing for financial security.
Your financial planning for retirement depends on understanding the investment landscape in order to anticipate pressures and opportunities to make your nest egg secure for the long run — to make it last as long as you do. A good financial planner will take into account your goals and aspirations for yourself and your family. Likewise, the healthcare professionals you depend on should have the expertise, experience, and commitment to your well-being to determine vulnerabilities in your health and work with you to reverse or mitigate those. The aim of your wellness team is to help you create the ‘root causes’ of a long, healthy, and robust life.
A good primary care doctor will help with important routine screenings and vaccinations; acute illness care; and of course, prescription medications. Yet this is not where true wellness comes from. True wellness requires a deep and holistic understanding of your physiological and stress status, and expertise to address vulnerabilities found there. It requires a commitment to learning the best way of nourishing yourself. The support of a team is important because this journey can feel like swimming upstream against a health care system that seems geared toward keeping you alive just to make you a long-term consumer of prescription medications, and a consumer environment that seems hellbent on promoting a lifestyle incompatible with health.
Did you know that Americans aged 65-69 years fill an average of 14 prescriptions per year, and adults aged 80-84 years average 18 prescriptions per year? This is because 2 out of 3 older Americans have multiple chronic health conditions. Despite a huge investment in research and treatment, chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer continue to be major drivers of death and disability. Cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia are now also on the rise. One in eight adults aged 60 and older report experiencing worsening cognitive decline over the past year and nearly half of Americans fear Alzheimer’s more than any other disease. Our healthcare system is failing to keep us healthy and is only serving to slow our development of chronic disease.
Older Americans not only suffer from high levels of chronic disease, but also must live with high levels of disability. Nearly three quarters of those who reach age 80 have already become disabled. Amongst Medicare enrollees, nearly 1 in 5 women are unable to stoop or kneel and nearly a quarter are unable to walk 2-3 blocks. Americans may be living longer but many have a very poor quality of life that is far from the “golden years” they hoped for.
This level of unwellness is expensive. The average monthly health care expense for a couple at age 65 is nearly $600 out of pocket and economists think couples will need to spend more than double this amount by age 85. Healthcare will be the largest expense for most older Americans and an average 65-year-old, healthy couple can expect to spend $266,600 over the course of their retirement on Medicare premiums alone, not including out-of-pocket expenses or long-term care costs. The path of aging leading to chronic disease and disability is costing older Americans a fortune.
What is the alternative? How do you as an individual buck this negative societal trend and create a more positive trajectory for your aging? The common sense answer is that we modify the path of aging with wise attention to the factors underlying health at any age: movement, nutrition, stress resilience, rest, and avoidance of toxins now common in the environment. But the common sense answer is hard to implement for many reasons. Our healthcare system is focused on illness care: the chronic health challenges already experienced by most Americans reaching retirement represent a trajectory of decline to be managed with prescription medications rather than healed. Yet we know that the human body at any age can regenerate and heal, given the proper care. We know that the path of decline can be modified by understanding and addressing roots of physiological challenges in order to allow the physiology to return to proper functioning well into old age. In short, wellness in aging results from the thoughtful, educated, and holistic care of body and mind. The path of chronic disease management through ever increasing pharmacologic treatment does not need to be followed. There is a better way!
Plum Spring Clinic holistic wellness programs are designed to provide you with robust support and expertise for your journey of aging well..
Our programs are built on:
- functional medicine diagnostics to determine your vulnerabilities to development of illness
- Nutritional expertise to help you understand the right diet for you and coaching positive eating habits
- Expertise for addressing unresolved trauma and reducing or eliminating that as a driver for illness.
- Techniques for building stress resilience
- A curriculum of accurate and well-researched information you need to know to maintain health and well-being
- A belief in the crucial importance of relationship and connection for restoring and maintaining health. Our team is with you all the way.
We believe that the magic bullet for aging well is the ability of your body and mind to heal and grow. Our passion and commitment is joining our expertise and empathy with yours to secure your successful and fulfilling journey of well-being.