We walked into the dining room. My mother-in-law kept shaking her head at each table. We were looking for three seats. No, not there, not there. I felt like we were trying to avoid sitting down with Death itself. Around the room, the average age was 96. Most were with their walkers, limping, curled over, tired from the walk into the dining room.

Disclaimer, my mother-in-law is quite healthy and walking on her own with a limp. It is slow going and our goal is to get from point A to point B. Nothing more.

We settle at a table with the gentleman on my right coughing throughout the meal, choking on every bite. The gentleman on my left is struggling to open two boxes of cereal, then proceeds to smash the little plastic bags of cereal into the table sending coffee flying out of my cup. My mother-in-law looks at me and talks about how when you stop driving you are stuck here waiting to die for a long time.

Aging Endlessly

Every one of us visiting this place will proclaim “NOT ME!” I will not roll over, lose my strength, mind, memory, muscle, and independence. Answer the question, what would you do to remain forever young as you age? Every baby boomer hopes that they can escape the jaws of time.

This facility is boarding school quality, excellent attendants, a doctor on site, expensive, and most needs are met. What plagues me is the question, why is this the last place on earth for most of us? Is it worth living for?

What is fulfillment as we age? Is it a hobby? Working? In a society that values only the young, can we find our position of value in a youth-obsessed culture? In many other countries, the elders are involved with their extended families as they take on childcare, cooking, and financial support. Is volunteering the only option when we hit the “senior” dance?

Brain cells in a dish at MIT are helping us learn how to keep the brain and memory functioning. There are herbs that have been used for thousands of years in India and China, Ashwagandha and Cats Claw, which can reverse the early phase of Alzheimer’s. That means all of us over age 45 because MRI and amyloid scans show deposition of amyloid 30 years before the onset of dementia. UCLA Buck Institute of aging has shown an approach that is successful in reversing the early phases. The kicker is that you have to do all the steps without relying on a single drug.

Sleep is integral to brain health. At night, during the 4 phases of sleep, the brain clears out debris from our environment. Consider your brain a dirty screen that needs to get brushed clean. The brain has lymphatics euphemistically called Glymphatics. Only during deep sleep can the lymphatics clear the brain. The dirt in the brain is part of the leaky brain that correlates with the leaking gut. Enemy bacteria, including bugs in your mouth, environmental debris, loss of micronutrients, the stress of genetically modified food all play havoc with the brain.

Recommendations from the experts are to floss twice a day, brush your teeth three times a day, sleep 8 hours, avoid alcohol at night, do not eat for 12 hours at night, learn something new, exercise 30 minutes, and take a probiotic daily. These measures will fend off brain fatigue or deterioration. Add in some Ashwagandha, Cats Claw, vitamin B complex, fish oil, vitamin D supplements, probiotics, and prebiotics, and I’ll see you on the dance floor in 20 years.

– Patricia Hopkins, MD

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