Posted On Feb 13, 2017
By K.S. Mitchell
If sixty is the new forty and retirement now means beginning a second, or even a third career, then anti-aging medicine may become an absolute necessity rather than a passing fad.
Every day, 8,000 people turn 65, and such will be the case for the next eighteen years. Meanwhile, baby boomers are projected to live twenty years beyond retirement age. The global aging situation is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and has prompted an explosion in the sale of antiaging supplements and products (to the tune of $100 billion per year). These dollars directly correlate to this generation’ s desire to look and feel younger. Now more than ever, boomers are turning to their doctors for advice on how to stay healthy, fit, and active. In the traditional medical model, patients seek and receive medical attention only when they are ill or injured. However, science had led us to a new understanding of the genetic and cellular makeup of many common diseases, and such knowledge gives us control over how these diseases develop and progress. We no longer have to wait until we get sick, require medication, or succumb to disability to address disease. Be it heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, or dementia, a vast spectrum of illnesses are either manageable or curable thanks to early detection, appropriate intervention, and lifestyle change.
A driving factor in this more proactive approach to medical treatment is the pursuit of optimal health and function. A concept rooted in the sports world, it has since found favor across the globe—particularly among the 100 million Americans over age 50. Traditional medical thinking interprets the functional decline that occurs with aging as normal, but boomers rebel against aging and want to remain healthy, active, and vital for the entirety of their life spans.
Recognizing this phenomenon, Drs. Robert Goldman and Ronald Klatz created the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (a4m.com) in 1992, and are credited with inventing the phrase “anti-aging.” It is the fastest growing subspecialty in medicine. Anti-aging is dedicated to the advancement of technology that detects, prevents, and treats age-related diseases, and to promote research into methods that optimize the human aging process. Anti-aging medicine has been enthusiastically received by physicians and patients throughout the world, and the academy now boasts 26,000 members in the US alone. As with any other challenge to tradition, the idea of “anti-aging” was initially met with skepticism; the maladies associated with aging had long been considered inevitable, and physicians sought only to control or treat patients’ symptoms. Two decades later, it appears to be going mainstream.
Researchers from the Harvard school of public Health have found that the anti-aging lifestyle can add 24.6 additional years of productivity to a person’s lifespan. The A4M research team found that the longest living Americans are Asian-American women residing in Bergen County, New Jersey. They live longer than any other ethnic group in the United States—an average lifespan of 91.1 years. A distinguishing characteristic of the Bergen County women’s longevity: they avail themselves of state-of-the art biomedical technologies in advanced preventive care, including preventive screenings, early disease detection, aggressive intervention, and optimal nutrition. These are all cornerstones of the anti-aging medical model.
Anti-aging medicine has evolved to become sophisticated, individualized preventive medicine that includes genomics, natural hormone balancing, detoxification, nutritional therapies, prescriptive exercise, regenerative therapies, and more. When this is properly done, it is very much an authentic partnership between doctor and patient, with a common interest in health, longevity, and wellbeing. This forum provides enough time for adequate communication and enough diagnostic information to allow for an accurate and total health picture. Patients engaging in the anti-aging process are generally more motivated and compliant, which makes for better outcomes.
More and more, wellness is becoming the goal throughout the medical community. Still, it is challenging to provide this level of service in the current high volume and low reimbursement medical model. A recent study showed that a full 40 percent of patients utilize complimentary and alternative therapies.
Academic institutions such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins are responding to this trend by offering integrative and complimentary health opportunities for patients, as well as educational opportunities for physicians. The American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine has created the first Fellowship in Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine—a comprehensive training program that prepares physicians to offer evidence-based wellness strategies to their patients. A4M also offers a masters program in conjunction with the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
Anti-aging practitioners determine individual genetic and lifestyle risks for disease, aggressive diagnostic testing to establish baseline function, hormone balancing, nutritional balancing, reduction of oxidative and inflammatory states, and elimination of toxic exposures. With these interventions, there is improvement in the lion’s share of risks and symptoms of virtually every age-related disease. Natural solutions are used whenever possible to restore one’s healthy metabolism, and medications come into the picture only when absolutely necessary. Common sense tells us that no illness or symptom is the result of a drug deficiency—so this should not be our first thought for the solution.
Insurance may cover some diagnostic testing, but in general, a physician’s time and natural products are not covered. When anti-aging was in its infancy, cost was more of an issue. However, the current baby boomer generation has demonstrated both a desire and a willingness to invest in their greatest asset—their health. Twenty years in the making, the anti-aging industry has come into its own with academic support, practice standards, and widespread public acceptance. Live long