A Different Perspective on Aging

Written by eHealth Navigator

Aging means having a greater number of years behind us than ahead of us, but in this culture we also come to think of aging as a state of decline.  If we could take that meaning out of aging, there is so much we can do.

Both the Hindu system of medicine and  Vedic sciences combined present a different perspective on aging using simple, understandable, doable tools to reverse common conditions of aging.

Ayurveda is a Hindu system of medicine native to India, and the Vedic sciences are based on the Vedas, holy texts of the Hindu religion.

They both think of the years between 60 and 90 as productive years, not as over-the-hill.  The Vedic sciences say life is divided into four phases of about 25 years each. In the early phase, people are students. From age 25 to 50, they are householders with families and jobs who gain experience and knowledge and serve in some way.

People ages 50 to 75 are considered to be in the forest dweller phase; which is about self-exploration and inner creative and spiritual discovery. Finally, people ages 75 to 90 are in the sage phase.

The idea is that we become wise and not just old.  In this Hindu approach, the use of meditation teaches people to have an objective observer mind so they can watch themselves have a distressing thought and stop it.  It helps you develop an awareness of  greater distance from the troubles of  society, family, and self and there by allowing you to make wise decisions about them.

The Ayurvedic presumption is that people in the sage phase can live very well if they take care of both their bodies and minds. A 90-year-old might not run a marathon, but can walk a couple of miles daily to keep toned.

They object to much of how modern medicine approaches the ailments of the aging.

Modern medicine doesn’t ever tell people who are 50 or over that a condition can be reversed.  It tells people they’re going to have their arthritis for a long time. It tells them their diabetes or cholesterol is permanent and progressive and gives them a pill.

But the change in perspective comes with an invitation for people to change their behaviors, often in simple ways, so they see a change in their symptoms.  The Himalayan Institute calls these changes tools that must be easy to follow.  For instance: massage one’s feet before going to bed to improve sleep, and stretch for 10 minutes daily to keep the lower back and hips agile.  Other examples are those of us with osteoarthritis continuing to jog when some gentler aerobic exercise would provide the same benefit or we continue to eat pro-inflammatory foods only compounding our symptoms vs changing our diets. 

Educating and encouraging people in healthy behaviors adds to the number of years they live and the vibrancy of those years.  The recently completed Kungsholmen Project, a Swedish study that followed 1,810 adults aged at least 75 for 18 years. Women participants who followed healthy lifestyle behaviors and had a good social network outlived their counterparts by five years. For men, it was six years.

Let’s see what you can do.  

Let’s not start from the assumption we are in decline!

Last Updated on Friday, 3 October 2014 1:33PM