Stanford geriatrician shares practical advice in a short book
Dr. Mehrdad Ayati, a leading Stanford geriatrician, wrote his book Paths to Healthy Aging to clear up common misconceptions about aging and make it easier to help older adults live well while getting older.
This slim book is written in plain language, using a friendly and conversational tone. It reminds us of having a casual conversation with a friend who’s a doctor and who’s looking out for our best interests. We especially liked the Take Home Message section that sums up the most important points at the end of each chapter.
Real-life stories explain medical recommendations
Dr. Ayati uses examples from real patients to show the importance of his medical recommendations. Hearing these stories makes it easier to understand his advice and gives a much-needed dose of reality – yes, slow change pays off and mistakes really do happen.
Discussion questions ease conversations with doctors
Dr. Ayati encourages readers to write down answers to each chapter’s discussion questions. These questions highlight important elements to staying healthy and are helpful when putting together a list of questions to ask at the next doctor visit.
4 most important aspects to healthy aging
Dr. Ayati boils healthy aging down to 4 key areas. Here are quick overviews of the four chapters that cover these important areas and why each is useful to you and your senior.
Moderation and enjoyment are essential for good nutrition. Extreme diets, supplements, and vitamins aren’t helpful unless specifically recommended by your doctor.
This goes against much of the media that we’re constantly exposed to, but explains what’s truly healthy and what could be harmful.
2. Mental health
A big part of healthy aging is having a positive mindset and good mental health. It’s often overlooked, but being active and socially engaged improves cognitive function, reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia, and improves physical health.
Dr. Ayati gives concrete suggestions for how to improve mental health and shares several success stories from his patients.
Frailty is when someone has significant unintended weight loss, exhaustion, weakness, low physical activity, and physical and mental slowness. Too often it’s accepted as a normal part of aging, but there are many simple ways to prevent, slow, or reverse it.
Regular exercise is key to combatting frailty. You’ll find many senior-friendly exercise suggestions as well as a photos that show how to improve strength and balance with safe, effective exercises.
Dr. Ayati clearly explains the dangers of overmedication, how it can easily happen when seeing multiple doctors, and how to protect your older adult. He also explains why vitamins and supplements, taken with the best of intentions, can cause dangerous side effects.
Hearing true stories about the consequences of overmedication brings the problem to life and helps us realize that there’s no such thing as truly safe or harmless drugs, vitamins, or supplements.
How to find a geriatrician
The next question might be “How do I find a great doctor like Dr. Ayati?” He also includes a chapter on how to find a good geriatrician.
He also shares useful advice about doctors (paraphrased here): “If you’ve been patient enough with your doctor and still don’t see any positive results, don’t feel confident in their knowledge, don’t like their bedside manner, or feel intimidated, change your doctor!”
This book is helpful for both seniors and family caregivers. No matter what your older adult’s current health situation is, Dr. Ayati’s practical advice can be used to improve quality of life and potentially slow decline.
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— Stanford Doctor Warns of the Negative Effects of Prescription Drugs
— 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor’s: Being a Health Advocate
— Better Senior Health from Improved Doctor Visits