Our guest in this podcast is Dr. Roger Landry, author of the award-winning “Live Long, Die Short – A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging.” Throughout his career, he has been at the forefront of practicing preventative medicine. His background is so impressive we didn’t even know where to start so we started with Chuck Yeager.
Coming to you this time from the life-long lending library in Laguna
The practice of preventative medicine in the Air Force
Dr. Landry had a 23-year career in the Air Force as a flight surgeon. He took care of the flyers and some of them were test pilots. At one point, he was assigned to Edward’s Air Force Base in California. Chuck Yeager was retired from the Air Force but was flying for defense contractors at the time. (You’ll remember Chuck Yeager from the film “The Right Stuff.” He was the first to break the sound barrier) One day, Chuck walked into Dr. Landry’s office for a physical.
He gave Dr. Landry his first lesson in “ageism” – which is bias against older adults. It was the 1980’s and Yeager was then in his 50’s. At the physical, he filled Dr. Landry in on his recent exploits. He also announced that on the 50th anniversary of breaking the sound barrier, he was going to do it again. Landry was alarmed and said, “But Chuck, you’ll be 73 on the anniversary! “Yeager turned to him and retorted brusquely, “What is your point?” He went on to break the sound barrier again on the 50th, 55th, 60th and 65th anniversaries.
Yeager is now 94 and just came back from a Safari in Africa so he’s a prime example of healthy aging.
John Glenn went up in the Space Shuttle at 73 years old. He passed away on 12/8/2016 at the age of 95.
Transition from the service to helping older adults
Landry’s patients in the Air Force were all very healthy people. This allowed him to be able to practice preventative medicine to keep them that way, so they didn’t crash, because they were in a risky environment. He not only examined them before flights but also flew and deployed with them and took care of their families.
It was a fantastic experience and that’s why he stayed in the service for 23 years. He retired as a highly decorated full colonel and chief flight surgeon at the Air Force Surgeon General’s office in Washington DC. After serving on five continents and being medically involved in a number of significant world events including Vietnam, the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, the Beirut bombing of the Marine Barracks, the first seven Shuttle launches and the first manned balloon crossing of the Pacific
Aero Space medicine, which was his specialty, is a type of preventative medicine. When asked how he transitioned to taking care of older adults after retirement he replied,“Both flyers and older adults have a better appreciation for gravity.” “Also, it’s especially important that both groups are able to function at their very best.”
Landry is concerned that health care costs will begin to crush us as a nation as Baby Boomers get older if we don’t focus more on preventative medicine now.
The secret formula to healthy aging is to be willing to try new things, keep moving, keep learning, keep growing, have a purpose, and be connected to others.
Lifestyle is the major determinate in how we age. (about 70% by the choices we make.) We need to continually move our bodies, (not just exercise) keep learning to re-charge our brain, be socially connected with others, (not isolated, which happens a lot in our society) and have a sense of purpose in life, (which is challenging as we tend to put our older adults out to pasture)
In addition to reading his book, Landry suggests you also read “The Blue Zones,” by Dan Buettner who did studies of centenarians in various places of the world called longevity hotspots.
The Mayo Clinic wrote a paper not long ago stating that “Sitting is the New Smoking.” A sedentary lifestyle is more dangerous than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
The effects of stress on longevity
Stress reduction is a huge factor in staying healthy. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, we were not dominated by time. However, since then, we’ve become a time-based society, which is not normal for human beings. Stress is related to just about every disease and chronic condition that exists. But Dr. Landry says that most of the stress we experience is self-induced.
When you are in a stressful situation there are only 3 things you can do. Fix it, make a plan to fix it, or accept it. Unfortunately, what we do is keep stressful situations in our head, mull them over, chew on them, and carry them around. It eventually begins to rot us from within.
When you are “in the moment” and focused on what you’re doing, time passes quickly. It puts you “in the flow.” Take little breaks from the constant chatter in your brain to relieve stress. Meditate, take a walk, play with a dog, and other relaxing activities.
The way older adults are thought of in society, (put out to pasture) needs to change. In Okinawa (one of the Blue Zone locations) older people are revered. Dr. Landry suggests we put our lives into 3 phases. Childhood, Adulthood, and Elderhood. As an elder, you will still have an important role to contribute to society by exercising the wisdom and experience that you’ve spent decades learning. When children or young adults are put together with older people it becomes magical.
Dr. Landry works with a group called Masterpiece Living. In the 1980’s, Dr.Jonas Salk challenged the McArthur Foundation to study the people who seemed to age in a different way and stayed at very high levels of performance for long periods of time. Dr. Landry’s brother was with the McArthur Foundation at the time and told Jonas Salk that someone had to apply this.
A few years later, he put together a group that included Dr. Landry. They started exploring what they could do to develop tools for older adults to improve their lifestyle choices and change their mindset so they wouldn’t see themselves as mere victims of their genes. They have also created cultures in retirement communities where older people could continue to grow. Many now have certifications as centers for successful aging.
In the communities, studies are done and participants are given tools and coaches to help them age in a way that keeps them growing and advancing.
“We’re really the architects of our brain and not victims of a brain that is just going to get worse and worse.”
Purchase the book and find out more
Dr. Landry’s book, “Live Long, Die Short” is available on Amazon by clicking here.
You can visit his website at LiveLongDieShort.com
For your own health, preventative medicine, staying on top of checkups and immunizations will help you nip issues in the bud before they are life-threatening.