It is a recurring theme, the baby boomers lead once again. Why? There are 76 million of us turning 50 at the rate of 1 every 18 seconds for the next 20 years. It remains a potent force as it has for the last 5 decades. You can’t ignore us because the population bulge in the modern world continues to favor the baby boom population. We are an aging society. The World Health Organization and large annuity companies are only too aware of this developing fact. The fastest growing segment of our population is … 85 and above.
A new field and discipline is emerging in Medicine. It has various appellations – Anti-Aging Medicine, Rejuvenation Medicine, Longevity Medicine, or Age Management. But its common theme is applying well researched phenomenon of the aging process to a focus on a new paradigm. This is the essence of functional medicine. It is the application of medicine to improve and optimize function as opposed to the late stage intervention and treating of disease states. It is foreward thinking and is the solution to the dilemma facing modern medicine – treating larger numbers of people with diminishing national economic resources.
So what does this mean to you? Here in the Silicon Valley, as in so many large metropolitan areas around the country and even around the world, we are faced with the business dilemma of retaining an aging workfoce. Until recently the simple solution has been the hiring of younger workers at less expensive salaries or, worse, off-shoring. But we lose an entire generation of expertise, savvy and know-how. It is a temporary fix. Long term, more and more post-50 workers will stay in the work force -- of necessity. How?
The most successful application of Anti-Aging Programs is a coordinated and structured approach that begins with solid and time tested principles of good nutrition, exercise and supplementation. There is a level of homornal modulation and balance but it is followed by “cognitive enhancement.” This means staying smart and retaining memory. Brain Longevity, as it was called by Dharma Singh Khalsa in his epic volume. We all experience a loss of memory for names and small details past the age of 50 (actually past 38). So that a structured approach to reviving this memory gap remains vital. Our memory storage and recall are our little interal hard discs. We resort to the use of external devices such as PDAs and Google searches.
Staying competitive. What does it take? We have the experience and knowledge. So staying competive is reviving the drive, the motivation, the force and the ability to move ahead. Staying competitive is what it took in our 20s and 30s to get started. Do we now have what it takes to keep going? It is about looking, feeling, and performing at our optimal best.
The most formidable interview I have seen in years was an interview with George Burns –one of the icons of aging well. There are others including John Glenn, Sophia Loren and of course, Jack LaLaine. George was 92 years young. His recall, timing and delivery was impeccable and undiminished. His goal was to play the London Palladium at age 100. It was daunting that a man 40 years older could be so sharp and witty and “on.” So gentle reader it is not necessarily a function of age. Age is a state of mind. Aging is not inevitable.
Our target audience is the 40 to 55 year old group, which happens to be the leading edge of the baby boom population. It is when the motivation to re-capturing lost vigor and stamina presents itself as “I am losing energy” or “I just don’t fell like myself any longer.” It may be out of lost physical, mental, sexual or even spiritual energy. A glimmer of the final end becomes more tangible. You begin to sense the game is moving into later innings.
I see dentists who are losing the ability to move from chair to chair as easily. I see software engineers having difficulty keeping up. “I feel beat up.” But the most striking example is a 72 year old real estate broker who just wanted some small changes in her hormonal routines. She is youthful, vivacious and a charge-ahead woman who, in the end, was most fretful of losing her job. And why? Despite the fact that she was the most productive sales person in her unit, she was constantly fearful of revealing her true age. She looks and acts about 62. But she is … 72.
They most often come out of a vague sense of lost energy or fatigue which is so poorly addressed, or understood, in conventional medicine. This is a functional concept. Restoring lost function -- lost vim and vigor. But in the end it so often comes down to competitiveness in the workplace. At any level up to corporate CEOs, it is about restoring confidence, motivation, stamina -- physical and mental -- that is the ultimate quest.
This is a nation that values “productivity.” It is part of the GNP. It may be part of company annual reports and 10Ks and daily stock market charting. It may be a facet of the annual employee review. I often say that, here in the Silicon Valley, we have what may pass for the most egalitarian society imaginable. Race, color, ethnicity, gender are all subordinate to productivity. It is how much you can produce that matters. What is your intellectual value?
The pursuit of optimal health and well being starts as a personal goal and ends as a personal triumph. “I feel like myself again.” “This is the best I have felt in 10-20 years.” We all have the capacity to regain “that feeling.”
But in the marketplace, this is ultimately a matter of increased productivity. The ability to stay competitive and thrive. Unless you are one of the few who has attained “critical mass” and can retire prematurely, there are going to be far more that need “the edge.” The answer is here. The government is not here to help. Medicare is going broke. It is up to you.
The strength and motivation must come from within each one of you. We in the Anti-Aging, Longevity Medicine field are merely the vanguard of an entirely new way of offering the help, the guidance and some answers. The Phoenix rises. There is the certainty of far more John Glenn’s rising into space at age 78, Sophia Lorens at age 70 Jack LaLaines at age 91 and the creativeness of Clint Eastwoods into the 70s and beyond. The hope and prospects are at hand. Now reach out. It is up to you to take the first steps.
Philip Lee Miller, MD
Founder and Medical Director
Los Gatos Longevity Institute
Author, The Life Extension Revolution
November 23, 2005