By Dr Amir Farid Isahak
I WOULD like to share with you some tips which I learned at two conferences that I attended recently. The first was the annual conference of the Society of Anti-Aging, Aesthetics and Regenerative Medicine; and the second was that of the Healthy Ageing Society. Then I will share about how three octogenarians keep themselves healthy and active in their 80s.
Many nations are preparing for the eventuality of becoming ageing nations as birth rates decline and life-expectancies increase.
The older generation faces a multitude of health problems, not only due to the expected degenerative changes of ageing, but also due to affluent and sedentary modern lifestyles. The more advanced nations are already facing this crisis.
For example, in Germany, the incidence of cancer increased 63% over the last 20 years. In Japan, the incidence of colon cancer increased drastically as the people lived longer and more adopted the Western diet.
We can expect the same in Malaysia as our population ages and we too adopt the Western diet (just look around and count how many American fast food outlets there are around us).
Today about 7% of Malaysians are 65 years or older. By 2035 we will become an ageing nation when the figure exceeds 15%.
If we want to mitigate the problems associated with this, then we have to look at the physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of ageing. I will touch only on the physical health aspect.
First we have to drastically change our diet and lifestyle.
As it is, statistics show that we are already getting unhealthier each year. Now, about 50% of the adults are overweight or obese (70% in the US); about 40% have hypertension; and about 15% have diabetes.
Over 50% of the men smoke (women are catching up fast, especially in the last decade as we became more affluent), and most do not exercise enough. The top causes of death (excluding accidents) are heart disease, cancer ,and stroke.