I saw a very gracious, pleasant woman recently who was in her late sixties and appeared essentially healthy except for hearing loss. When I mentioned to her that the implant that would allow her to hear well again would most likely last her a good 30 years, she smiled and told me she didn’t want to live that long.
It took me by surprise because her mood appeared completely normal. She explained that she didn’t want to live much beyond her mid 70s because she was basically tired of life, and it was her time to go, and she feared disability and illness, particularly dementia.
I hear this type of remark not uncommonly, and although it certainly often is a manifestation of underlying depression, I think it also can be reflective of a widespread “give-up” mentality which I struggle with on a day-to-day basis in my practice — not because I judge it, but because I have trouble relating to it.
Is it me? Or is a passion for life and for health less common in America than it should be these days?
A limiting outlook can be a major problem when it comes to physicians’ efforts to get patients to adopt healthier lifestyles. The vast majority of people who are tired, overweight, struggle with chronic pain, or have ”brain fog” or other psychiatric issues can definitely be helped by adopting healthier lifestyles, most particularly by a healthier diet (incidentally NOT the same one recommended by the US government). But a defeated attitude can stand in the way of these gains.
My impression after practicing medicine now for over 20 years is that physical debility, depressed mood, and cognitive decline in the middle aged and elderly is rampant in America and this situation is getting worse every year.
What is even more concerning is the epidemic of psychiatric disease such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD in young people. Why is this happening? I think in large part it is caused by very poor eating habits which deprive the brain of the essential nutrition it needs to function properly.
Many people have given up on the idea of truly feeling well, or living well into their old age, and from my perspective, this is not a justified belief. With the proper diet, exercise, sleep, and targeted nutritional/hormonal supplementation, your body and brain can easily last 90+ years and allow you to live independently, and happily, into your advanced years.
These goals are attainable, but one must fundamentally care about them now, and plan ahead by taking the time and effort necessary to change habits. I’m particularly referring to a proper diet and the right types of exercise. That diet includes a restriction on processed food and carbohydrates, and an abundance of healthy fats.
If you are starting to have physical or mental health issues, such as type II diabetes, weight issues, hypertension, depression, or other problems, you should not expect that drugs are the best way to deal with these problems. You must fix your lifestyle.
Life is a precious gift we can take for granted. Steve Fugate suffered tragedy and despair, and an effort to deal with his loss, he walked all over the United States encouraging everyone he met to “love life” and to be grateful for its gifts. The video below lasts six minutes. I found his story inspiring and I think his message is one that any thoughtful person can reflect on and benefit from.