Saturday, December 14, 2013

Who will you trust with your health and fitness as you age?

Morris says to his doctor, “My right knee hurts.”
“How old are you now, Morris?” asks the doctor.
“I’m 101,” he replies.
“Well, what do you expect at your age?”
Morris pauses for a second, then rises in anger.
“The problem with that, Doc, is that my left knee is also 101, and it doesn’t hurt at all!”
Founding director, National Institute on Aging;

How will you ensure your health and longevity?
It’s amazing how quickly time goes by. It was not until I began a research project last semester on Active Adults Age 55+ that I realized that many of my incredible Controlled Burn Fitness clients have reached or surpassed the age of 55. I was again reminded of the age of my clients this semester while enrolled in a Nutrition Class, “Lifecycle Nutrition: Later Years.”
The phrase "old age is not a disease” came up many times throughout the semester during conversations with my fellow students.  The phrase lent for some interesting discussions, and made me think about how important it is that I continue to motivate my clients to stay in touch with their bodies and to motivate them to protect their health and longevity by not only seeking well-informed and considerate health care practitioners, but to also take the extra step to educated themselves on the best ways to stay healthy and injury-free.
I have several clients over the age of 55 who are modest endurance athletes. By modest, I do not mean they are average, back of the pack, participants. Modest for them, means they will tell someone “I did a few miles on a trail today;” when in reality they ran over 15 miles in less than 3 hours over very steep and rugged terrain, compared to their average weekend run of  50 to 100 miles during an Ultra Marathon. Their idea of “taking it easy” is running a distance, 5 days a week, that most people wouldn’t consider attempting once in their life without at least six months of training.
Unfortunately, due to their modesty, and their assumption that their well-educated, multi-degreed health care professional takes the time to read their chart past the basic statistics of age, height, and weight, many of these active individuals are at risk for having their aches and pains ignored as just a “symptom’ of old age.

“We all age at a different pace yet too often the health-care system defines us as a number or statistic instead of a living, breathing patient.”
- Mark Lachs, MD from Treat Me Not My Age

Aging is a part of life, and it is the vehicle that brings each of us to the end of it. Death is inevitable, but aging is not a death sentence. Aging can be embraced, it can be ignored, it can be resented or it can be respected. It is how we prepare for and live our life that greatly impacts the aging process. It is important that we choose wisely when enlisting who we trust with our health and well being. We all need to take responsibility for educating ourselves and the older people in our lives on how to ensure health and longevity.
While doing research last semester, I stumbled upon a wonderful book, Treat Me, Not My Age by Mark Lachs, MD., which reassured me that my frustration with the health care industry is valid in regards to how the system, and many of the health care practitioners within it, tend to neglect healthy and active adults over the age of 55.
The following example is from the research project I did last semester about Active Adults Age 55+. I wrote,
“Over a year ago, [client] contacted me regarding a chronic pain in his hip, which he said “a while back, I thought I pulled something in my groin. A friend thought I had a hernia. I just ran it off the next day but it got a lot worse after Bull Dog (a 50k Ultra Marathon which includes two 4-mile climbs up a mountain trail to 2,528' elevation during the California summer heat in August.)”  I asked if he had seen a doctor, he said “Well, yes. He told me to take it easy, so I only did the 50k instead of the 50 miler.” I cringed, knowing that the doctor had no idea that his “taking it easy” is running a distance 5 days a week that most people wouldn’t consider attempting once in their life without at least six months of training.
When he came in for a session, we did a warm up and some mobility assessment. We finished off with gentle manual manipulation and gentle assisted stretches. It was during our warm up that I learned that he had not been giving his nutrition or his hydration enough attention, both key elements to lubricating joints, keeping muscles working efficiently, and supporting physical recovery. I also learned that after some of his hardest runs leading up to Bull Dog, he didn’t have time to rest before jumping in the car for a 6 hour drive in traffic, which would cause anyone’s legs, hips, and lower back to cramp up. He then had to work the next day and sit in meetings for hours.
I knew that with the diminished range of motion, and the fact that he could feel pain (understand, an Ultra Marathon runner’s concept of pain is exceptionally skewed), was a sure sign that his issue was beyond my scope of practice. I insisted that he “call his physician immediately and let him know just how much ‘taking it easy’ you’re doing…and I mean it! Tell him exactly how many miles! I assure you he will see you and check your hip.”
Thankfully, he was seen right away, and informed me that the MRIs and X-rays ruled out any stress fracture, but that he had some inflammation around the labrum. Had I not insisted he call his physician, he would have continued to “run it off,” risking further, potentially devastating injury. He was told to not run at all for at least six weeks. That’s it. No follow up. No suggestions on how to gently reintroduce his body to running after six weeks off. In my opinion, the lack of after-care directives is terribly negligent.”
When an individual’s aches and pains are not properly considered in context with their activity level, there is great potential for loss of mobility, which could lead to diminished quality of life, which can lead to depression, which can lead to many other problems, all of which carry potentially devastating consequences. It is my passion to learn as much as I can in order to contribute to helping more people, along with myself, to live happy, healthy, and active lives far beyond our senior years.
How will you been contributing to your health and longevity?
How will you contribute to the health and longevity of the people you love?

"A life of happiness is one of the greatest rewards of a healthy and active lifestyle.
Surround yourself with positive, inspiring, and respectful people. Challenge your body,
feed your mind, and nurture your soul. Enjoy life and share the goodness"
-Melissa Adylia Calasanz  

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