Here we are finally at Part 6 of our short series on the myths of aging. We will conclude the series with a debunking of the magic bullet to eternal youth myth and a brief consideration of just how you can go about slowing, stopping or reversing the aging process.

Actually, if you have paid attention to the earlier parts of this series you’ll realize straight away that I should say reversing the aging processes. It clearly has to be plural, since there are various dimensions to aging. This is true not merely because aging is an holistic experience, but even in the terms we have already introduced.

So, for example, we could talk about the physical aging process, the mental aging process, the social aging process, and so on. Clearly we may address as many such processes as we can meaningfully identify, and given the holistic reality of aging, this list could be infinite.

I don’t quite feel up to tackling the infinite today, do you? No? Fine then, let’s just confine ourselves to a prescription for anti-aging in some selected, key areas.

The first area is physical aging. Is this is a key area for you? It is for most people. The cosmetic industry, from plastic surgeons to makeup manufacturers, has been making billions of dollars per year for quite some time because people don’t want to confront evidence of physical aging.

The trouble with the simple cover-up approach is that it is a simple cover-up! It is far better to work on the underlying physical aging process than to accept its inevitability unchallenged. This will require effort however, so most people opt for the superficial cover-up. Hopefully you are smarter than that.

So here is the prescription in brief. If you ask me, I’ll tell you where you can find the detailed version, but this should get you started.

  • Eliminate accumulated toxins from body tissues to enhance performce from the cellular level
  • Support optimized immune function and digestion by probiotic replenishment of your bowel
  • Optimize your nutrition to empower physical resilience and repair from the cellular level by eliminating damaging "foods", eating well and using specially formulated supplements
  • Follow an exercise program that gradually increases you strength, endurance and flexibility (try to include a series of yoga positions, such as the five rights tonic)
  • Review the determinants of physical health and implement any required changes (especially ensure fresh air and plenty of pure or filtered water)

Now let’s deal with mental aging. We are certainly not interested in retarding the maturation process. Having a mature approach to life which is a manifestation of thoughtfulness and consideration for others rather than an immature self-absorption, a growing capacity to reflect on broader aspects of situations and to keep things in proportion, an increasing repertoir of self-management and interpersonal or social skills, and so on, are clearly worthwhile aspects of maturing as an individual and member of society. We do want these.

We also want to keep a sharpness to our thinking and to have confidence in our continuing abilities to learn across a broad sweep of life experiences, whether occupationally related or simply keeping up with trends and developments in areas of personal interest. This helps to keep us from becoming "old fashioned" or being labelled as "past it".

So what’s the prescription for keeping mentally youthful while still benefiting from development? Again, here’s the brief version.

  • Keep learning! Whether by formal study or satisfying casual curiosity, develop a genuine life-long learning habit. Extend knowledge of areas of interest and every couple of years or so, find something completely new to learn. Key areas for those already middle aged have been shown to include learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument, and learning to dance.

Note that this prescription includes two important elements and integrates with the physical approach prescribed above. One element is the cognitive learning that relates to learning "knowledge" and developing the thinking skills and abilities themselves. The second involves the development of new psychomotor pathways, as your brain effectively orchestrates new physical movement pathways, like those required for playing an instrument or dancing. Of course, this could easily be replaced with operating new tools or playing a new sport.

The third and final area we’ll briefly consider is the social aging process. Remember disengagement theory? That should give you some clues about what to do here. Let’s see another brief prescription.

  • Stay engaged! Don’t quit from life. Remain in as many positions that provide social connectedness as possible.
  • Balance participation and responsibility. Develop the ability to "bow out gracefully" by stepping down from some portfolios without abandoning them completely. This could mean working part time for many years rather than fully retiring, becoming a non-executive member of some club or association rather than quitting completely, becoming a director rather than chairperson, and so on.
  • When social forces or personal choice means you do leave positions, such as paid employment, replace those connections with others. Ideally, make some connections where you will be valued, such as volunteer work of various types.
  • Aim for cross age group connections and avoid socializing exclusively with people your own "age".

Well there you have it. I hope you find something of real benefit from these prescriptions and I trust we have successfully addressed some prime myths of aging. There is no magic bullet, but there are very real and highly effective means whereby you can slow down and turn back the clock, so to speak.

If you follow the advice above you can check your progress. You will notice many health benefits that will allow your to add quality to your life, as well as quatity. In effect, you will truely extend your life in many ways. You will see over the years just how much better you will fare compared to chronological age peers who don’t implement the above. You will also be able to measure your performance on a multitude of measures to demonstrate that you are indeed, young for your "age".

So go ahead, get to it. Remember, it’s your life. Make the most of it.

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