My Rx for Aging Well

For a dermatologist, I have a somewhat unusual perspective on age and beauty. My approach is reflected in some of my Insights, such as “Happiness is the best facelift.” And, “When you’re healthy, you’re beautiful.”

I apply the same philosophy to my own life. For me, aging well is not about recapturing the youthful appearance I had in my 20s, or 30s, or even 40s. My goal is to look and feel as healthy and well as possible for a man of my age, which is 81.

If I had to write my aging prescription in a single sentence, it would be,

“Keep active in every way—physically, emotionally, and socially.”

In practice, this means you have to make self-care an even higher priority than you might have as a young adult. Back in my 20s and 30s, I could miss a day or two of exercise, or eat or drink too much on the weekend, or stay up all night cramming for a medical school exam, and not notice any difference in my weight, strength, or endurance. That isn’t the case any longer. My body needs daily care and upkeep. That’s why I work out with a trainer five days a week; I eat a healthy diet—predominantly fresh fruits and vegetables, along with embryonic foods like eggs, seeds, and nuts, clean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats; I drink alcohol in moderation; I make a point of getting a good night’s sleep. On the days I don’t work out with weights, I go for a walk, or hike, or ballroom dancing with my wife.

This is what works for me. However, aging well requires that you find what works for you! After all, if you don’t enjoy your self-care program, you won’t keep at it. And keeping at it is what aging well requires.

Even with the best of habits and intentions, however, it’s likely that one or more of your physical “parts” will wear out over time. It might be a knee, or a shoulder, or a hip. It might be your overall energy level. For me, it was a detached retina that sidelined me for weeks.

After an extended period of inactivity, it’s doubly difficult to get back into the practice of exercising regularly. Which is why it is all the more essential that you do. Whenever an injury or illness prevents you from maintaining your regular exercise program, forgive yourself, and then return to it—or a replacement activity—as soon as possible. After all, “It’s not about what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it.”

Sometimes, aging may require that you give up the very sports and activities you love the most. Perhaps you can no longer fill your weekends with basketball or beach volleyball like you used to. I can no longer trail run. If this happens, it may take a period of trial and error until you find a new activity that motivates you to participate. And that is what life is all about: participation!

Unfortunately, if you don’t find and engage in new enjoyments, depression can seep in, as you lose former abilities and fail to find replacements for them. Keep at it! Don’t be afraid to try new things because it’s very true that “You never know until you try.”

A word about supplements

As most friends and followers know, I believe that “Food is medicine.” That’s why maintaining optimal health through diet—eating your water and all the other nutrients, antioxidants, and inflammation fighters you need—is one of my Four Pillars of Modern Wellness.

However, I also believe in insuring against any deficiencies in my diet by taking supplements. These include a high-potency B vitamin complex providing all eight B vitamins, an iron-free multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that provides all the major vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement, lecithin (for strong cell membranes), glucosamine (for healthy joints), L-carnitine, thymus extract, and the Murad vitamins. I also take NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) by injection.

Social and emotional activity

Our social and emotional lives require additional care as we age, as well, particularly if mobility issues, the loss of friends, or the loss of our ability to participate in some of the social activities we once did conspire to diminish our social interactions.

The isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic took an emotional toll on most of us. But it was also a lesson in how important it is to maintain our personal connections. Now that the restrictions have eased, I take great pleasure in going to the Murad office several times a week—not for work, necessarily; I can work from home. I go because I enjoy seeing the people there and talking about the topics and ideas we care about.

I also do more painting and take more art classes. Painting reduces stress and nourishes me emotionally and, though I could paint alone, the classes nourish me socially—which then boosts my emotional health, as well. It’s important as we age to “Stay in touch with your passion” and to “Embrace your inner toddler.” Passions can change over time, so we need to pursue them, wherever they lead. That’s what a toddler does: approaches and examines every new item in their environment. They’re endlessly curious and not afraid to try new things.

Loralee and I also enjoy having friends over to dinner regularly, and of course we love visiting our children and grandchildren. I’m also fortunate to be asked to speak to many various groups and audiences. If my schedule permits, I almost always say yes. Why? Because it keeps me engaged with and connected to others!

If one is retired, one can still create engagement opportunities: by volunteering! Pack meals at the local food bank, greet visitors at an area hospital, be a docent for an art museum, read stories to children at the local library, be an usher or ticket-taker for a performing arts group. The service you provide to others will deliver health and wellness benefits to you, too.

Finally, I tend to my social and emotional well-being by managing stress: by reviewing my Insight cards to focus on the positive, by exercising, eating healthfully, prioritizing sleep, and staying connected to friends and family.

And what about skincare?

Definitely! Skincare is healthcare—and, for better or worse, as we age, lifetime of habits show up on our face. My daily self-care regimen includes applications of moisturizer and sunscreen—and I also moisturize and protect my skin from the inside by eating my water AND my sunscreen!

However old you are, it’s not too late to develop the habits that will serve you well over time. That, after all, is the meaning of #Modern Wellness.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider, who should also be consulted with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.


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