‘Live long, die short’ is presenter’s message at Our Lady of the Cape

By Becky Aubut
Anchor Staff

BREWSTER, Mass. — Don’t be like the low tide, quietly fading away without much notice. Be a wave. Become strengthened with movement, and end with a flourish. 

In other words, “Live long, die short,” said Dr. Roger Landry, a preventative medicine physician and author of “Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging.”

Living life as a wave is a perfect metaphor for how to live your life, explained Landry.

“It should be how you live,” he said, adding that “aging” in a reserved and quiet fashion is a “stereotype.” It doesn’t matter at what age you embrace this message. Understand, said Landry that “life is a gift and should be lived with maximum intentions and be experienced fully.”

While you cannot stop the aging process, studies have shown that subjects who take the “high road” when it comes to aging, do better. 

Citing the Rowe-Kahn model of successful aging, Landry explained how in their original model, Rowe and Kahn defined successful aging as the avoidance of disease and disability, but more recently they expanded their model to include maintenance of physical and cognitive function, and engagement in social and productive activities.

“Life will throw you curveballs,” said Landry, “but it’s how you bounce back through the choices you make, that will make the difference.”

“You can start with lifestyle changes that will help you improve to be better and stay better,” said Landry. “Most people tend to want to put the elderly out to pasture, thus marginalizing that population. However, this ideal of relegating the elderly to the sidelines came about more than 200 years ago from the Industrial Revolution. Before then, being an older adult was a privilege and appreciated, though there are some societies that still take care of their elderly.”

Instead of allowing yourself to be sitting on “the bleachers of life,” said Landry, “get on the playing field. Reach out, be part of the community. Elderly people tend to isolate themselves. Be part of a social organization or religious community. That is so important.”

Landry shared how our ancestors were hunters and gatherers with no sense of time but with incredible sense of community. Even though they may not have lived as long as we live now, said Landry, the elders were a wealth of knowledge that the younger people gleaned from, and everyone had their unique place in the society.

“Now, we move less and that comes with a huge price tag,” said Landry. “Sitting is the new smoking. A sedentary lifestyle is much more dangerous. With cars, elevators, jobs that require you to sit — there are even people-movers in airports. We do better when we move. Our brain works better, our bones are stronger, our gastrointestinal and heart work better. We are creatures of movement.

“The hunters and gatherers were always learning, strengthening their intergenerational network. There was no putting elders out to pasture; older adults had a purpose and were part of a group.” 

The ancestors’ diets consisted mainly of fruits, nuts, vegetables, fish and small amounts of meat: “They ate better,” said Landry. “They were close to nature.”

We should rediscover what is healthy for us, said Landry, as he shared that there are a few societies that have incorporated that way of life into their culture, and the results have the elderly population living longer than their counterparts in the rest of the world.

The “Blue Zones” are an anthropological concept that describe the characteristic lifestyles and the environments of the world’s longest-lived people. Dan Buettner first coined the phrase when it appeared in his article published in a November 2005 National Geographic magazine story, “The Secrets of a Long Life.” 

Buettner identified five geographic areas where people live statistically longest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and among the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, Calif. All subjects shared common lifestyles that contributed to their longevity, including strong family connections, social engagement, physical activity, an appreciation of Spirituality or religion, a sense of life purpose and moderate caloric intake that was mainly plant-based in diet.

There are a number of steps one can take to lead an authentic health and successful living, said Landry. 

Use it or lose it: keep moving and stay active. Stay connected: get out of the house and be part of the community. Never act your age: find a purpose in your life. Wherever you are, be there in the moment. Ask yourself if you are using your talents? Are you short-changing your brain? Are you connected critically?

Is your age or your Spirit in charge? Are you having fun?

Kaizen is a Japanese word for “continual improvement,” of activities that improve all functions, to “change for the better,” or as Landry put it, “baby steps.” And it will take baby steps for some people to make these lifestyle changes, he added, but it will be worth it.

“When we want to make a big change, we tend to be unsuccessful,” said Landry, who quickly polled the audience by asking who was still undertaking their New Year’s resolution, with almost no one raising his or her hand. “We find change a huge threat, which is self-induced and takes away our ability for success.”

Landry cited a story of a patient who needed to lose weight but was having a hard time getting to his goal. His “kaizen” solution was to spit out the first bite of a candy bar. Soon it was two bites, and then three, until he ultimately wouldn’t buy them anymore. The same can be done when walking. Another patient was told to simply stand during commercials while watching television. Then Landry added more movement during commercials, until that patient began walking more regularly.

Kaizen is the start of a lifestyle change that will work for you,” said Landry.

Don’t ignore your risks. If heart disease or colon cancer runs in your family, make sure you do the right thing and stay connected with a doctor. Continue to challenge your brain, stay connected with community and family, and “find Spirituality in the moment.”

“It’s a search,” said Landry. “Why am I here? Look for opportunities, have an awareness of thought. We are Spiritual beings living a human experience. We don’t always live in the moment. Our minds are always moving. You can’t be stressed without a sense of time. Choose faith, prayer, nature, music, even knitting [to relax].”

Everyone has untapped potential, regardless of age, but push your way and be connected, said Landry.

“Be like a wave, and your end will be in a flourish,” he said.

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts