Dr. Mark Williams is Board-certified in geriatric medicine and internal medicine. He has a clinical practice in Wilmington, NC. He’s Clinical Professor of Medicine, UNC and Professor Emeritus, UVA. And he’s the author of a leading book on the medicine of aging, The Art and Science of Aging Well: A Physician’s Guide to a Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit
Geriatric specialists treat common ailments faced by senior citizens, such as frailty, incontinence, memory problems, arthritis, senility, decreased functioning and use of the medications that an elderly person is prescribed to treat their more complex health issues in order to decrease adverse side effects and avoid dangerous drug interactions, and to prevent decline and illness .
We asked Dr. Williams these questions:
What does it mean to be old? What’s your age cut-off for elderly?
You work in a clinic and deal with aging patients every day.
What are the successful strategies that you see patients use to deal with aging?
What are some of the habits or patterns of action and thinking of people you see who are aging badly/unhappily?
You offer “eight aging myths you don’t have to fall for…” Let’s just talk about a few:
No. 2: Losing weight will extend your life…
No. 4: Learning and creativity decline as we age (“you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”)
No. 8. Growing old means living in an institution in a state of dependency.
What are the primary differences in the way women and men age?
We hear the term “free radical.” What is a free radical, why is it a bad thing, and can we avoid it?
Is this related to inflammation?
You have a chapter on food.
How important is diet in the aging process?
Aren’t we just paying the price for bad eating habits in earlier years, and there’s nothing we can do when we get old?
How do we improve memory or at least retain what we have as we age?
The power of habit
You offer some specific suggestions for “sharpening your mind.” Talk about them:
Learn something new
Create new experiences.
Expand on something you already know.
Deprive a sense
Use your non-dominant hand.
Laugh and play.
You talk about managing your emotions as you age? Why is this important? What tools do you suggest we use to do that?
Do older people have something extra to add in creative discussions? What is wisdom, and it this a property that older people have?
Are we rapidly extending life, and will this lead to immortality?