Health tips for Boomers and seniors on what's normal and what is not

Is it normal to seek out Elvis for advice or forgetting stuff all the time, ask some of the 78 million aging Baby Boomers worried about getting old.

More than 78 million “Baby Boomers” are nearing the age of when unexpected aches and pains, weight gains, sudden illnesses and confusing mental changes begin to occur. In turn, there’s no real escape from this aging, states new health books for these Boomers and seniors. For instance, the late Morrie Schwartz told fans before he died in 1995 that “you know how they brainwash you in our culture? Well, they repeat things over and over again, like you can prevent aging; when you can’t.” Schwartz, a sociology professor at Brandeis University and the subject of the best-selling book “Tuesdays With Morrie,” would have been a perfect example for Dr. John Whyte’s new bestseller “Is This Normal? The Essential Guide to Middle Age and Beyond” because, like Morrie, Doctor Whyte doesn’t blow smoke about a fountain of youth or means to remain looking young. The “reality is there’s nothing on God’s green Earth that can stop you from aging, dying,” explained Morrie during a famed “Nightline” interview before his death. Meanwhile, Doctor Whyte has enlisted famed Dr. Dean Ornish to say the same sort of things in the foreword to this new book that explains what’s normal, and what’s not for those Baby Boomers and seniors who may wonder about such things as: “Do we really shrink as we grow older?”

The “Screwing of Senior Citizens”

It's no secret that Americans are living longer than ever before, but doctors - writing new books about aging - now report how “many are enjoying their extra years less and less.”

The author’s state - in the new book, “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them,” for example, that they titled a chapter of this book “The Screwing of Senior Citizens” for good reason: “This is caused in part by medicines that are supposed to help but end up hurting instead. People aged sixty-five and older currently makes up 12.6 percent of the population thought that percentage will soon rise dramatically.”

In turn, they report that “senior citizens take one-third of all the prescription medications. According to one survey, roughly 40 percent take five different drugs a week.” But, are these drugs harming more than helping, doctors now ask?

What’s normal as our body dies?

Yes, you reading this will die. “Nobody gets out of here alive,” states an old saying by the late great “Doors” singer Jim Morrison.

In turn, Doctor Whyte writes in his new book “Is This Normal? The Essential Guide to Middle Age and Beyond,” that those who read his book may be disappointed because he’s not marketing any of that Kool-Aid that is sold to aging men and women to “remain young.”

Doctor Whyte, the chief medical expert for the Discovery Channel, states, for example, that “as children, our questions about how our bodies will change are met with knowledge and patience – anything to make the transition as seamless as possible. But at 50 or 60, we have little to help us figure out whether the changes we’re experiencing are a cause for concern or just a normal part of aging.”

What seniors face as they age

In turn, Doctor Whyte has enlisted famed Dr. Dean Ornish to help him take the sting out of revealing to seniors that – as the late Morrie Schwartz explained – there’s nothing to stop aging, that’s simply your body dying, bit by bit until its end.

For example, Doctor Ornish writes that “a patient once told me, ‘Growing old is a bitch!’” Doctor Ornish then writes how “we’re learning that diseases and conditions” are a normal part of life. “If you’re from the Baby Boom generation, you’re probably already inundated with books about how to care for your aging parents, how to marshal your financial resources for retirement, and what to do with all that spare time you’ll supposedly have on your hands.”

Thus, Doctor Ornish explains in the foreword to this book “Is This Normal,” that yes, “you can expect your memory, emotions, physical functions and relationships” to change as you age.

And, with Doctors Ornish and Whyte reporting how “78 million Baby Boomers” will need to address “weight gain, joint decay and weakening muscles” – to name just a few health issues – they remind readers that “you are not alone,” and there’s things one can do before your death happens.

Doctor Ornish is founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

How are you living each and everyday?

Both Doctors Ornish and Whyte recommend that Boomers and seniors consider the view: “How well we live is as important as how long we live.”

Thus, these doctors urge Boomers and seniors to wake-up, and realize that "you are you're own best doctor."

In turn, one Boomer named Jess, who read this new book “Is This Normal,” and another bestseller, “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them,” stated the view that “doctors bury their mistakes,” and even today’s so-called high-tech medicine is “really an inexact science, with people needing to take more responsibility for their own health.”

Seniors in trouble due to doctor’s mistakes

In the new book, “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them,” Ph.D.’s Joe and Teresa Graedon reveal that in 2008, “investigators estimated that 15,000 Medicare recipients died each month as a result of care they received in the hospital. That means an annual death toll of almost 200,000 senior citizens precipitated by adverse events experienced in hospitals. According to the Inspector General, nearly all the problems were avoidable.”

In turn, the authors say “the stories like this (of Boomers and seniors dying due to mistakes) come in like the tide.”

“We are not revealing a deep, dark secret,” the authors add. “Experts have known for decades that, for example, senior citizens are being prescribed way too many dangerous drugs.”

For instance, they point to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researcher who “estimated that inappropriate medications were prescribed at as many as 16.7 million doctor visits.”

Despite all this bad news for Boomer and seniors, the doctors and other experts are somewhat optimistic that today’s wise elderly will soon “get the fact” that they’re aging and they need to find out what’s “normal” for them and their health.

Image source of a Baby Boomer asking an Elvis impersonator for advice about her health during a recent event that attracted those older folks who wished they were young again. Photo by Dave Masko

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