I have been asked by a faithful customer to write a blog about the elderly. So, I am just going to muse a little bit here about what I think are important issues for the elderly. First, I think the elderly should be very cautious about taking drugs. Older people do not clear drugs from their bodies as efficiently or as rapidly, and there is greater risk of harm. Note also that the effects of drugs are cumulative. For instance, painkillers- including both prescription and over the counter ones- damage the kidneys. The same is true of anti-inflammatory drugs. So, you really want to avoid them as much as possible. For instance, if you have a headache, instead of taking a painkiller, try applying an ice-pack. Try to steer clear of those drugs as much as you possibly can.
Another example is statin drugs for high cholesterol. I don't think they should be taken by the elderly, and certainly not prophylactically. What I mean is that if you have no history of heart disease, and no particular signs of heart disease, but you happen to have high cholesterol, just leave it. Of course, you can always improve your diet and try to lower it that way. I'll never object to that. But don't take statins. For one thing, the association between high cholesterol and heart attacks falls apart after age 70. And more important, elderly people with higher cholesterol actually live longer than those with lower cholesterol. It's believed that cholesterol protects against cancer and infections-two of the leading causes of death among the elderly. But the most important thing, in my opinion, is to refuse to take statin drugs. Read the book, Lipitor: Thief of Memory by Dr. Duane Graveline. If you do, you'll want no part of statin drugs.
An invariable effect of aging is atrophy. That's where your good tissues (such as bone, muscle, even your brain) shrink and shrivel up. The result is that you get weaker, slower, more frail, more fragile, etc. This happens to everyone to some degree,. It's natural and you might even say universal. However, we need to fight it as much as we can. There are various causes of it, including the loss of youthful hormone levels, and also habitual inactivity. However, another reason that applies specifically to the elderly is malnutrition, which relates not only to what the elderly person eats but also to how well he or she digests and absorbs the food. Digestion, like everything else, gets weaker with age. In particular, hydrochloric acid production in the stomach declines a lot with age, and you need hydrochloric acid to properly digest your proteins. I think there are many elderly people who should consider taking digestive support, in the form of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, to help them make better use of their food. And of course, their diet has got to be properly constructed and balanced. No "tea and toast" elderly diet will do. I should add that dental problems often compromise nutrition for the aged. Obviously, you should work closely with your dentist and practice careful, thorough, and regular dental hygiene- as should everyone. But, if your choppers just aren't up to par any more, you need to find ways to work around it. If you can't chew raw green salads any more, then you should blend them. If you can't chew raw nuts any more, then you can grind them in a coffee grinder. Don't compromise your diet just because of bad teeth. Find ways to work around it.
You have to exercise if you intend to live. There is nothing better than walking. If you can walk at all, you had better do it. Even if you do other things, make it a practice to walk regularly, faithfully, and daily, if possible. Realize that walking is the most bio-mechanically sound exercise you can do. There is nothing better. There is nothing kinder and gentler to your body. There is nothing more rythmic and smooth and balanced. Swimming and pool exercises are also very good. Gym machines like stair climbers and stationary bicycles aren't bad either, but nothing beats walking. Games like tennis, golf, and racquetball are fun, but many people get hurt playing them. There is lots of strain involved when you're twisting and turning and reaching, etc., as you do in those sports. So be cautious with those activities.
I mentioned the need to be cautious about drugs, but the same is true of surgery. Older people do not tolerate anesthetics as well. The shock of surgery, the blood loss, the trauma- it's all much more arduous for an older person. So, don't be overly enthusiastic about having surgery. For instance, if you are an 80 year old man, and if you are not in pain and if you are able to pass your urine freely, don't submit to prostate cancer surgery. I certainly wouldn't. I'm 60 and I wouldn't.
One surgery I do believe in for the elderly is cataract surgery. Just make sure you have a highly experienced surgeon.
Should the elderly get flu shots? I don't and I wouldn't. For one thing, the serological (antibody) response of the elderly to the flu shot is much weaker. There are plenty of authorities within mainstream Medicine who say that flu shots are useless for the elderly. Are you aware that those who have had multiple flu shots have a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease? I think that a much better, safer, and more effective option is to take high-dose Vitamin D3: 5000 IUs daily. That's what I do. Yes, it's safe, even for the elderly.
I'll finish by pointing out that it's in your senior years that the idea of "leaving well enough alone" should carry a lot of weight, especially when it comes to radical interventions. I hate to have to say this, but in my opinion, medical abuses far outweigh medical miracles even in 2011, so be wary!