Sound Body, Sound Mind
When caring for an older adult, it's important not to overlook routine care -- stuff that seems obvious but that may not be on your radar. Here is a rundown of what to keep in mind:
Everyone needs regular checkups. But some older adults (and young ones, too) reason that since they just saw the doctor last month about that sinus problem, they don't need to go again. A visit to the doctor for a specific problem, however, doesn't take the place of a complete checkup.
"The schedule is not written in stone," Peter
explained. "But we do make love every day."
Michael Roizen, MD, would say that sex is keeping Kranz young.
In his best-selling book, RealAge -- Are You as Young as You Can Be?,
Roizen makes the case for the antiaging effects of sex after surveying the
available literature. "Having sex at least twice a week can make your
RealAge 1.6 years younger than if you had sex only once a week," Roizen
says. He defines 'real age' as "an estimation of your age in biologic
terms, not chronologic years."
Although Roizen's statistics are sketchy, he derives his
figures primarily from a study done in Caerphilly, Wales, and published in the
December 1997 British Medical Journal under the title, "Sex and
Death: Are They Related?" One of the few efforts to examine the
relationship between sex and mortality, the study found that men who reported
at least two orgasms a week at the time of the study had less than half the
risk of dying from various causes over 10 years of follow-up than those with a
lower frequency of orgasm. Drawing on the researchers' remark that the evidence
suggested a dose-response relationship -- meaning in this case that the more
orgasms a man had, the longer he lived -- Roizen concluded that someone like my
friend Peter, who has sex every day, could have a Real Age as much as 8 years
At first blush (and Peter's candor did make me blush), my
friend is a convincing example of Roizen's argument. He is youthful-looking,
energetic, and actively involved in many interests. Peter still works as a
developer of computer systems. He has had a steady, positive relationship with
his wife who, at 77 also, still commutes to Manhattan for her own job at a
major nonprofit institution.
But although Peter enjoys his sexual interludes immensely, he
also does many other things to remain youthful. He watches his weight and
caloric intake very closely and makes sure he stays slim. Over the last
decades, he has been involved in strenuous earth and rock-moving activities in
his own backyard; and he also splits wood when it is needed. He has exercised
steadily and intensely over the years.
So does sex itself really extend our lives or prevent heart
attacks? This claim is difficult to prove. Yes, sex and good health are usually
linked -- in most of the studies and our observations -- but which one is the
chicken and which the egg? Does sex contribute to good health or does good
health make regular sex possible?