Dr. Betty Lacy, M.D.

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OPTIMIZE HEALTH
AND
AGE WELL

WHAT IS HEALTHY AGING?

Healthy aging begins with one big question: How healthy am I? Sit with this question and you may find that it changes day to day based on how you are feeling. This is what's called subjective data. This is how you are feeling about your overall health. It is part intuition along with how well your day is going based on how you ate, when you ate, how long you slept and your stress level along with a host of other interactions you have experienced and are experiencing in the moment. How do you really know how healthy you are? You may feel healthy. You may look healthy. You may have seen your doctor lately and received a pat on the back and a positive bill of health. But how can you know for sure how healthy you are?

Objective data is the information taken from your history and various tests done to determine the health of your body. Blood work, scans of your heart and brain, cognitive and psychological assessment tools, along with flexibility and gait, will give us information as to how your various organs are functioning, how your body is responding to stress. and how your lifestyle, diet, exercise, and daily practices are influencing your overall health.

Establishing a baseline is important to assess what strengths and risks you have at this particular age, whether you are 20 or 90 years of age. In order to formulate a personalized health care plan, we need to have an understanding of how fit you are. This is what we call your BRAIN-BODY HEALTH STORY, which will come from an extensive history along with laboratory and cognitive tests described in Body-Brain Health Program.

GOAL: Discover how healthy you are!

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself this question? How healthy am I? This has been a question that has perplexed me for some time. Science is attempting to answer this question but it is not a succinct answer yet because medicine has traditionally been divided into its various specialties where the right-hand does not talk to the left hand. Your cardiologist doesn’t talk to your neurologist, nor are the gastroenterologist and psychiatrist talking. Our current health care system is built around specialty silos, where specialists and generalists don’t talk to one another. Like the separation between doctors, the body is treated by compartmentalizing organs and treating individual parts. This is what we are changing with personalized precision medicine.

Understanding the connections between our bodies and our brains is still in its infancy-

Western allopathic or conventional medicine has done its best to separate physical health from mental health and brain health. Of course, the body is not separate from the brain. There is clear evidence that brain health is directly related to heart health. But what about the rest of the body? If the kidney's or liver are not functioning well your heart will suffer as well as your brain and other organs. The heart is key to brain health, and so are the rest of the body's organs and systems. Science is still discovering the multitude of interconnections between the brain and the body. Unfurling the immensity of these influences on cognition and memory is occurring concurrently with great interest as our population ages. Wait, we have n’t thrown into the mix our environment? However, that is exactly where we are at in our change towards personalized precision medicine: an evolving model for individualized health care based on science, genetics and epigenetic phenomena.

Most people go to the doctor to discover what they can do for some kind of ailment. However functional medicine is a new paradigm shift towards looking at the root of a problem and ultimately trying to answer that looming question, " How healthy am I?". When one is using an integrated/functional approach your strengths and weaknesses are assessed. What is working for you and what is not are and most importantly the why, when things are not working. We are not trying to kill the messenger of a malady, we are trying to understand it and search for its root cause. More: BRAIN-BODY HEALTH.

PREVENTION: Is the best intervention!

Fact: We spend 3 trillion dollars on health care each year with 5% of this on prevention.

To inquire about your health is something many of us don’t think about till something goes wrong. Most of the time we avoid going to the doctor till we are really sick. That’s when we often start to pay attention. But what if we paid attention before illnesses or diseases started. That’s called prevention and that is what Brain-Body Health is all about, learning about your brain and body health before something goes wrong with it.

Crossing into the territory of aging is a place we know is happening but we’re never quite sure if we’ve arrived. An art-making workshop on “Creativity and Aging”, asked the following questions to ponder; “Am I old?, what is old?” Remember the rocking chairs as gifts to retirees, or the “Over the Hill” cards at 40. Seriously, we were all buying into the idea that you reached your prime, somewhere around 40 or 50, and it was downhill from there. Diane Nyad, defies ageism. She believes her prime is at 64, after being the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. It's clear we can still be lighthearted about aging, while at the same time getting serious about our health.

GENES AND YOUR HEALTH

What if you could know you were at risk for certain diseases? Science and genetics are doing just that. Together these two fields have created an opportune marriage over the past 2 decades called the Genome-Wide-Association-Studies which we can now reap the benefits of. Blending together a unique telescopic lens with which to view health, GWAS has spurred medicine forward to enter a new age called precision health care. Science and genetics can now tell us what genes are responsible for specific diseases. This has been happening over the past 2 decades, but unfortunately, most doctors and medical schools are unaware of this major breakthrough and what it means. Based on these trends, Medscape, an online medical education forum, recently recommended that genetic counseling be available in all doctors’ offices and medical education be inclusive of the study of genetics. Like nutrition, doctors learn very little about these subjects, so we too need to change. Our clients are helping us change by presenting their genetic reports on visits, wondering what they can do to reduce the inherited risk of a disease.

OLD SCHOOL: There’s nothing I can do about Alzheimer’s disease so why get genetic testing?

NEW SCHOOL: Wrong! There are many things you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease from happening.

  • NEW IDEA: Genes are not your destiny
  • NEW WORD: Epigenetics: Changing the expression of our genes by modifying lifestyle
  • NEW STRATEGY: Genes are the deck of cards you are dealt. Epigenetics is how you play those cards.

Preliminary research from New York and the Weill Cornell Medicine’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic indicates genetic testing can be a major incentive for improved health practices.

AGING REALITIES

The National Council on Aging has this to say: The nation’s 76 million baby boomers have been given an unprecedented gift of health and time; but to a great extent, older adults do not make the most of this phase of life.

Aging has changed remarkably since the last generation entered into retirement. Yet, traditional retirement plans are disappearing, the cost of daily living continues to rise, and more than 84% of people aged 65+ are coping with at least one chronic health condition, often over many years.

The result is that most older adults are unprepared for this new stage of life. Societal expectations for them have changed little since 1950, but they are facing a new reality when it comes to maintaining their health and economic security and contributing to society.

-- REMEMBER: EVEN LITTLE THINGS YOU DO FOR YOUR HEALTH ADD UP --

RESOURCES:

  1. NCOA created the Aging Mastery Program® (AMP) to develop new expectations, norms, and pathways for people aged 50 to 100, to make the most of their gift of longevity.
  2. Berkeley Wellness Magazine: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/preventive-care/slideshow/24-tips-healthy-aging
  3. Cognitive Fitness course online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/promotions/harvard-health-publications/cognitive-fitness-ecourse-feb2018-test
  4. This Is Getting Old, by Susan Moon.https://www.amazon.com/

Betty Lacy, M.D.

Dr. Lacy specializes in the field of brain health, cognitive resiliency, genetics, and mental health. Learn More >

Brain Body Health Mission

Empowering seekers of knowledge in the subject of brain health and cognitive resiliency to become curious citizen scientists, learning together how to optimize our BRAIN-BODY Health and prevent dementia.

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