When you see a doctor, there are more than 9,000 billing codes to describe the care you'll receive.
But as Harvard economist and innovation expert Clayton Christensen writes in The Innovator's Prescription...
There is not a single billing code for patient adherence or improvement, or for helping patients stay well.
Health futurist and physician Daniel Kraft put it even more bluntly...
What we call health care isn't really health care – it's sick care.
It's time to change that... We need to shift from treating disease to anticipating and preventing it.
That's the inspiration behind the "healthspan" – the time folks have at nearly full health, not battling disease or decline. For our bodies, that means having excellent mobility and freedom from pain. For the mind, it's having excellent cognitive function.
Our healthspans don't keep up with our lifespans. A 2021 study from Mayo Clinic shows there's a nine-year gap in which we're kept alive but functioning poorly. That means we're spending the final years of our lives suffering from ailments like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer.
So instead of passing your last years doing things you love – like traveling, exploring the outdoors, or playing with your grandkids – you'll spend it in doctor's offices and hospitals.
You'll be stuck taking medications that interact and often make you feel worse, instead of better.
Much of your energy and money could disappear into battles against disease symptoms.
But here's the thing... Many of these diseases are preventable. You don't have to spend the last few precious years of your life this way. And it's easier than you'd think to avoid this problem and lengthen your healthspan.
Today, I'm sharing one of my top ways to slow the aging process to help your healthspan meet your lifespan...
Many people dismiss anxiety as a typical sign of aging...
You've probably done it. Think about the last time you visited your parents or another loved one in a senior-living community. Did you notice changes in appetite, poor sleep, or trouble concentrating? Did they hoard food or avoid participating in any social activities?
It turns out, these are all markers for generalized anxiety disorder ("GAD") – the most common of all anxiety disorders. And people 65 and older are more likely to suffer from it, often without help.
One reason for concern with anxiety in older folks is the connection to Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's is a form of dementia that slowly erases your short-term memory and eventually wipes out the memories of family, friends, and even how to perform day-to-day tasks like bathing or eating.
It happens when your brain cells start to function improperly.
One theory is that the brain loses the ability to filter out debris and damaged proteins. That can lead to things like plaques. Plaques are clumps of proteins that stick to the brain's nerve cells and damage them.
For years, we assumed anxiety was only a byproduct of Alzheimer's. And that makes sense... As our brains change, neurotransmitters, like those responsible for moods, don't work properly.
Now we know that anxiety isn't just a byproduct... It's also a precursor.
The research starts with a study out of the Washington University School of Medicine. Scientists looked at the connection between high stress levels and Alzheimer's progression.
They found that high stress triggers the release of a signaling chemical in the brain called corticotropin-releasing factor ("CRF"). CRF releases compounds called amyloid-beta peptides, which form those plaques we see in Alzheimer's.
A study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston took this idea further... Researchers looked at 270 adults aged 62 to 90. Participants had brain scans every year for five years to measure levels of those compounds. Researchers also tracked anxiety and depression.
What they saw was that participants who had higher levels of anxiety over those five years also had more amyloid-beta in their brains.
What's more, the researchers believe that testing folks for anxiety early on may help them catch Alzheimer's sooner. That means starting treatment sooner.
Even better, given the role of CRF and its relation to stress, treating anxiety early might also help slow Alzheimer's. It's a novel idea to treat anxiety as a way to alleviate and possibly prevent dementia symptoms.
We're still waiting for more studies to confirm these findings, but in the meantime, fighting anxiety and stress is crucial to your overall health. As we know, stress causes a host of diseases as it lowers your immune system and ramps up inflammation – one of the major causes of shortening telomeres. And the sooner you start to take care of your mental health, the better.
One of my favorite ways to alleviate stress is through meditation.
Meditation triggers the "relaxation response," which helps our bodies naturally let go of anxiety and stress.
There are many types of meditation, but the one I recommend the most is Transcendental Meditation ("TM").
When I was a freshman at Carleton College in Minnesota, my roommate introduced me to TM. He swore by it. So one day, I took a bus up to the Twin Cities for a weekend class. I came away with the basics: a mantra (a phrase I say to myself to help me focus) and an appreciation for how meditation affects my physiology. I consider it my first "boots on the ground" research for improving my health... or in this case, my "Birkenstocks on the ground" research.
TM involves focusing on your breath and a mantra. Your mind may wander to other thoughts, but you acknowledge them and return your attention to your mantra. It's soothing and peaceful. With enough practice, you'll experience physical changes in addition to feeling happier, more rested, and less stressed.
Whatever your situation, it's never too late to start working on increasing your lifespan.
And there's nothing more important. Certainly not wealth that you never get to enjoy.
That's why I recently released a report for subscribers of my brand-new research service, Prosperity Investor.
In this report, I share my top five ideas, based on the latest clinical research and technology.
Do them, and I guarantee, for instance, you'll experience less inflammation– and thus aches and pains.
And that's just the beginning of the benefits.
In Prosperity Investor, my team of experts and I explore the huge opportunity as the health care sector and technology take off over the coming years... Through investing, becoming better health care consumers, and improving our overall health...
If you're ready to improve your health and put more money in your pocket, click here to learn more .
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
July 25, 2022