Appreciating the Aging Process
While most people fear the prospect of aging, there are some who appreciate its benefits. That is not to say, the process of aging doesn’t come with some negatives, but those can be handled if we look to the science of aging. According to Dr. Linda P. Fried, an epidemiologist and geriatrician who is dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, an aging world population and climbing health care costs have implications for public health in the 21st century. Schools of Public Health like Mailman of Columbia University are attempting to integrate what is known in several fields and to create an interdisciplinary approach to “reflect a new emphasis on health preservation and prevention for every stage of life.” (Karen Pennar, “Unafraid of Aging,” NYTimes, June 25, 2012)
Dr. Fried’s life work has been to foster a tremendous body of scientific research on the process of aging. Before coming to Columbia University 4 years ago, she spent more than 2 decades at Johns Hopkins University studying information on the health of more than 5,000 men and women 65 years and older as part of their Cardiovascular Health Study. She also
analyzed data on 1,00 women over age 65 for Johns Hopkins’ Women’s Health and Aging Study. Armed with this information, she has become a pioneer in the area of frailty in the elderly. She also has developed a simple assessment tool that uses 5 criteria to test for frailty. Researchers now refer to a “frailty syndrome,” a term which she coined.. As part of this syndrome, her younger colleagues are studying how the frail react to various stressors in their environment. “…the frailty syndrome that Dr. Fried describes is at once simple in its constituent elements and complex in the manner in which those elements interact. In a sort of negative synergism, insufficient nutrition can lead to loss of muscle mass, which can reduce strength and walking speed, which in turn reduces overall activity and energy. All of these factors interact to dysregulate the immunological, endocrinological, and other systems in the body.” (Karen Pennar, “Unafraid of Aging, NYTimes, June 25, 2012) Her research is considered as the new gold standard in the area of assessment and treatment of geriatric patients. Her work is studied in every geriatric program in the US.
At age 63, she herself is a model for what an older adult is capable of doing. She continues to research. Her latest focus is how to engage the elderly in meaningful volunteer work, which could start before a person actually retires and continue into their retirement. Keeping active and engaged, fosters bodily health. Other projects stress cross-disciplinary topics such as disease prevention and housing for the aged. She is devoted to improving the lives of the elderly, and all will benefit from her focus and dedication.
(All information for this feature was taken from the NY Times article previously mentioned.)
Kit Kat has succeeded our beloved Allie Cat, who has a new legal residence. But like Allie, Kit Kat was an orphan. Allie had been found near a parking garage in Portsmouth, and Kit Kat came from a backyard in Virginia Beach. His mother probably gave birth to him in August 2003, because he was found in September around the time of Hurricane Isabel. It’s a miracle he survived all that trauma. It may account for the fact that, despite his size (close to 13 pounds), he is very afraid of strangers and hides when visitors come to his house. When Andrew Hook and his family took him in, he weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces. He now is one of 5 cats the Hooks have–all orphans (1 from Chesapeake, 1 from Williamsburg, and 2 from Savannah, GA). Their stories relate to the 2 Hook daughters who could never resist helping a stray.
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