I am lucky to be reasonably healthy. The truth is without a little modern science I would be blind.
I have always been extremely nearsighted and consequently a good candidate for a detached retina. When it happened it was severe. Not a tear but a total collapse. All the wallpaper on the back of my eye fell down. They fixed it with a “sclera buckle” and that was that, except that I did lose some eyesight. I also have “low pressure” glaucoma. Clearly an oxymoron since glaucoma is “high pressure” on the optic nerve. (Kind of like what happens when you sit on your leg and it falls asleep). For me almost any optic pressure is too much. There is no cure for glaucoma but the medicine is supposed to keep it from progressing to blindness.
I also had cataract surgery. The miracle that allowed me to throw away my glasses.
My knee was fixed arthroscopicly (torn meniscus); my three herniated discs in my back were, I think, wisely left alone. Eventually the knee needed to be replaced but now is almost as good as new.
So its not that I think modern medicine is not miraculous just that we need to proceed with caution.
I am in favor of any medical procedure prescribed because there is no other choice.
But “elective” anything sends me warning signs.
When I was a kid I had bad acne. I went to the best. Every single thing the doctor told me, including every treatment prescribed, was just plain wrong according to what we know today. My brother had colitis and ultimately cancer. They thought colitis was caused by a nervous condition that could be treated by a psychiatrist. What he needed was medicine not a “good talking to”. He was dyslexic in the 1950’s. Similarly, the teachers gave him detentions not reading help.
My mother got lung cancer at age 89 and her wise doctors told her to leave it alone. Old age got her before the cancer. In your 70’s and 80’s more procedures need to be left alone. Read “Being Mortal.”
Here is what I hope will happen to medicine in my remaining years. If I could pick just one subject it would be the whole category we reserve for mental health. We need to separate true physical problems that cause our brains to react abnormally and call them physical illnesses and reserve so called mental health for psychological problems which can be treated with behavior modification.
People who hear voices are not mentally ill. They are physically ill. Our uptight puritan society needs to change its prejudice.
So what keeps me up at night about my health. It’s not my fight with prostate cancer (a whole other subject and post) its Alzheimer’s.
I moved to Florida to help out when my Dad first started the symptoms. At the end he could not talk and was violent. The road from Dad to the other Guy was painful. It’s not just about losing your memory it’s about losing your brain.
Am I candidate? Would you want to know if you could? I would not.
I am at my fighting weight and in decent shape. So like it or not, you are now going to hear my unsolicited suggestions for developing a more healthy lifestyle. I am sure these rules are probably worthless for most people but they have worked for me. I am not good at rules and often mess up but I never let that deter me from getting back to my program.
So now my unsolicited advice for staying healthy:
1. Don’t go to bars unless the bar is in a restaurant where you are having dinner. Smoking is for idiots.
2. Get help from someone you trust to teach you the basics of healthy eating. Someone needs to walk you through the grocery store. I think its complicated (particularly the labels). If you have to pay someone to teach you the basics do it. They don’t still do the “pyramid thing.”
3. Pay attention to stuff like “Eat this Not that” because realistically you are going to eat fast food. Learn what is the best of the worst.
4. Ignore people who tell you that as you age you need less sleep. Get a lot and nap. Take sleeping pills as a last resort and make sure the doctor knows what she is talking about before they are prescribed. Not everyone responds the same way. If you used to be a drug addict (I probably was) don’t take sleeping pills. Do enough exercise so you’re are exhausted.
5. Exercise. I could do a whole blog on this one. I go to the club and workout everyday. That is a little nuts. But my best advice is set your goals low. Find something that you will actually do and do it. If you use weights use light ones with lots of reps. Get one of those rubber band things that allows you to work out at home and do it while you watch the tube if you must watch the tube.
6. Don’t diet. None of them work. EAT LESS. It’s all about calories.
7. Cook at home. If you don’t know how the easiest way to learn is watching others cook on YouTube.
8. Vanity is good for you.
OK What about Sex for Seniors?
There is certainly a great deal of fear of sexual dysfunction.
My advice learned late in age is:
Having sex with someone you love goes a long way to solve most sexual dysfunction problems.
A little touching along the way also doesn’t hurt.
When you were dating you wouldn’t consider not hugging or touching your date all night if you expected to get lucky later. Couples who no longer share any physical intimacy out of bed probably never share any in bed. We can touch each other at 75 without the necessary expectation of a completed sex act. It sure takes the pressure off the guy who, after all, has to “get it up”.
I don’t think sex should be a performance. The older we are the more we need to communicate what our expectations and abilities are. And then guys there are meds to help. For most what they really do is put back the confidence. No shame there.
My Mom met my Dad when she was 18 and he was her first and last and only sexual partner. She was open and honest about her love and how she also enjoyed expressing it sexually. She was not a child of the sixties. She remained sexually active until my Dad could no longer remember his name. NICE.