A 94-Year-Old Man’s First Visit To A Doctor Was Me In The ER. Here’s What I Learned About How To Get To Old Age, And What Doesn’t Matter.
Written by Dr. Larry
In the Er recently, I ran into something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before:
A 94 year old man who had never seen a doctor in his whole life. Crazy. Never took meds. No diet and exercise. Nothing. Yet he made it to 94. I love it, how did he get to his 90s without modern medicine? What did he do, not do? Eat? How much did he exercise?
DO NO HARM
First of all, he didn’t do all the things that shorten our lives. Like smoking, drugs and abusing alcohol. He rarely drank, not much. He said he ate everything, never went on a diet. He clearly ate in a way that maintained a healthy weight, that is, he wasn’t obese and didn’t eat to excess.
He didn’t exercise regularly. He worked in the fields his whole life, picking cotton, and farming watermelon. The lifestyle of manual labor kept him active and burned enough calories that he didn’t need to exercise.
WHAT HE DIDN’T DO
I love it. He never went on a diet, did a cleanse, took a medication or supplement. Never ate bone broth or collagen. Never took vitamins. Certainly never did the Kim Kardashian belly wrap, liposuction or used anything Gweneth Paltrow recommends. He never used a fitbit, tracked his sleep or even weighed himself. He never ate keto, or put butter in his coffee.
How distracted we are today with all of this stuff supposed to help us be healthier. Pure distraction.
He just lived a moderate, active lifestyle. And, let’s be honest, rode some good genes.
Crazy idea today, right? Like most of you, I suspect, my normal worklife spends so much time in front of a computer, not out working the land. So I have to schedule regular exercise to get the benefit that generations got just by living. We did not evolve to work a desk job to say the least.
MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS SAVES LIVES
Socially, he was married and had 5 kids. Two of his children were at the bedside when I met him in the ER. His wife had died decades ago, but he had maintained meaningful family relationships with his kids and grandchildren, he was socially connected. The more we learn about the harm of loneliness, the more I want to highlight how protective good relationships can be.
Now when he came to me in the ER, he had developed a week of shortness of breath and swelling in his legs. My labs and X-ray in the ER showed he had heart failure, kidney failure and probably diabetes, and high blood pressure. Amazing he got to 94 without coming in earlier, but his suffering even at this point could have largely been prevented with regular doctor visits and simple management of his blood pressure.
Many adults with have high blood pressure even while living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a good weight. It doesn’t always mean you’re stressed and eating too often at Taco Bell, although come on—often it does. Nor can high blood pressure always be fixed with lifestyle modification alone. Some healthy people need pills, and can extend their life and function by taking some simple meds.
With such preventative maintenance, this gent may have been able to get to 100. He still may. I’m not advocating not seeing a doctor or checkups, but I do want to highlight that his moderate lifestyle got him very far without any of this crap that we doctors do, and yes—much of it is silly crap. Well done, señor!
He got pretty far without us. I want you to do better. Live your healthy lifestyle. Get your checks.
And leave the Kim Kardashian cleanse fad distractions for the tabloids where they belong.