Friday, September 19, 2008

Living a Healthy Life

(Contributed by Dr. Jessica Levy)

The other day I was talking to my oldest sister. The topic was people we knew who were getting older and sicker. She discussed the health status of her in-laws, who are in their 80’s and suffer from diabetes, heart disease, and asthma; I brought up my husband’s only surviving grandparent, also in her 80’s, who has diverticulitis and is in an assisted living facility because she is too weak to walk.

My sister, who is 11 years older than I, was concerned that this is the way of the world, as you get older you get sicker, and it somehow seems unavoidable. I reminded her that our father is going to be 81 this year, and is in robust health, thanks to good genetic material and his wife, who monitors his diet a little closer than is comfortable. (Sometimes my siblings and I have to sneak Dad away to his favorite steakhouse, where he is not officially “allowed” to eat by the powers that be.)

On the other hand, he’s always interested in something new, spends summers in Israel and winters in Florida, and periodically sends me emails along the lines of: “We’re on our way to Vienna (or Frankfurt or Aruba), here’s our hotel contact information, etc.”

My lesson from this is that taking care of your own health really does pay off. Good old diet and exercise, as well as maintaining an active and interested mind, will keep us alive and healthy. We are lucky to have Dad as an example of how to do it right. Plus, we hope we got the good genes, too.

So there we were being all self-righteous, when we remembered that Mom’s been dead for 15 years. She died of myelofibrosis, which is one of those rare weird things that people die of. Not hereditary, as far as I know, and she lived several years with a disease that has a dire prognosis. She also quit smoking, watched her weight, read like a maniac, knitted like crazy, traveled the world, and never cooked the same thing twice.

Better clean up my act, before it’s too late.

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