Some people are old at 30; they look physically tired and appear to be worn out mentally. They look and behave much older than they really are. Other individuals are still young and full of vitality even though they are well into their 80s.
Why? What is the difference between the world weary 30-year-old and the vivacious 80-year-old?
There are three factors which have a crucial effect on how old you look – three factors which decide whether you are tired at 30 or sizzling at 80.
First, there is no doubt that most individuals’ attitudes and expectations are likely to be coloured by the attitudes and expectations of those around them. Expectations can be subdivided into two categories – the general expectations of society and the specific expectations of family and friends.
Society expects us to be frisky and slightly irresponsible at 16 but sedate and sensible at 70. There is no sound reason for this – it’s just the way things are. In fact, it is perfectly possible to argue that it makes far more sense to be irresponsible at 70 (when you have less to lose) than at 16 when you have your whole life ahead of you.
The expectations of family and friends are likely to be similarly restricted and narrowly based. ‘Act your age!’ is a common admonition. ‘You’re too old for that!’ is another. Both these phrases should be banned from the English language (and, indeed, any other language in which they appear).
There is absolutely no reason that a 70 or 80-year-old shouldn’t start a new business, get married or take up motor cycling if he or she wants to and feels able to. The average 70-year-old has 97 per cent of the brain power he or she had at 25 (plus all the extra wisdom accumulated over the years).
The second important constraint is, of course, likely to be a physical one. If your body is in poor condition then you are undoubtedly going to find it easier and more comfortable to sit and watch television than to travel around the world, or force yourself to find and tackle new challenges. As we get older our bodies do tend to creak a bit. Parts that used to work well and without strain slowly begin to show signs of wear and tear. But much physical incapacity can be overcome – if you’ve a mind to do it.
And it is, of course, the third possible constraint – the mental one which is by far the most important. Attitude of mind is vital in every aspect of life – not least in the art of staying young and active. If you think you are old, past it and incapable of accepting and taking on new challenges then you will probably become old, past it and incapable of accepting and taking on new challenges.
If, whatever your age, you have passions, hopes and ambitions and you are determined to ignore the artificial constraints of society, and the warnings of your nervous friends and relatives, and see those passions and hopes and ambitions through to fruition then the chances are that you will be able to overcome any physical obstacles in your way and succeed.
Hopefully, the advice and information in this book will help you (at best) avoid or (at worst) deal with many of the health problems which are commonly accepted as being a part of old age.
Finally, a word of advice.
If anyone – doctor, nurse, social worker, relative or friend – ever says to you: ‘It’s your age – what do you expect?’ boot them out of the house and tell them not to come back.
Age and health are only loosely related. The machinery does tend to get a little worn as time goes by but that doesn’t mean it will inevitably stop functioning efficiently or effectively. You need to isolate, define and tackle your existing health problems one by one. And you need to look hard at your lifestyle to identify all the ways in which you can best preserve your health for the future.
The information in this book is designed not just to help those suffering from these problems to live longer, healthier lives (and to minimise the discomfort and danger to which their diseases expose them) but also to help those who are not suffering from these problems understand how best they can avoid them.
It is a sad fact that as medical knowledge increases so the quality of medical care (and caring) seems to deteriorate. As it becomes increasingly difficult for doctors to keep up with new advances in medicine (even in their own speciality) so it becomes increasingly difficult for patients to find the truth about the diseases from which they are suffering (or which they fear).
On the whole doctors have never been particularly good at sharing medical information with their patients. And there is no doubt that the increasing complexity of much information has made this aspect of their job more difficult. But the major reason that patients find it so difficult to discover the truth about significant illnesses which may threaten their lives, and the lives of the ones they love, is that everyone (doctors and patients) is these days bombarded with vast quantities of misinformation. Lobbyists and public relations specialists feed doctors with the half-truths they want disseminated, and keep from them inconvenient and unprofitable truths. How else can one explain the fact that the vast majority of doctors (and, therefore, their patients) do not know that the best way to treat heart disease does not involve drugs or surgery? How else can one explain the fact that the vast majority of doctors (and, therefore, their patients) do not know that 80 per cent of all cancers can be avoided.
Information is the most valuable resource on earth – far more valuable than gold or platinum. Information gives you power over many things but most important of all it gives you power over your own health – and increases your chances of survival in an increasingly dangerous and dishonest world.
But how can you possibly keep up when there are so many lobbyists and PR organisations busy laying traps and false information in order to sell specific products and particular points of view?
Much of the material you read in newspapers and magazines has been ‘planted’ by public relations experts – wanting to sell or protect a particular product. The same is true of TV and radio programmes. There are just as many spin-doctors in the world of health care as there are in politics.
In order to navigate these traps – and to differentiate between the truth and the fallacies – you need help.
Why should you trust us to provide you with that help?
Well, we have nothing to sell you but the truth. We don’t have a practice to run or to protect. We don’t accept sponsorship or advertising from anyone.
And we have a track record which is, we believe, second to no one in the world of medicine. A full list of accurate predictions and warnings which were first made in Vernon Coleman’s books, in his newsletter, in his newspaper columns or on his website would take up several pages in this book.
This book has been written to help you to look after yourself; to enable you to take charge of, and responsibility for, your own medical care.
Taken from the introduction to the book: How to conquer health problems between ages 50 and 120 by Vernon Coleman and Donna Antoinette Coleman.