Dr. Dilip Jeste Article contribution by: Sydney Wright, MD
The presentation by Dr. Jeste addressed the following four themes:
Retirement and Purpose in Life
Life expectancy at 65 will rise from 19 additional years of life in 2015 to 29 additional years in 2050. Retirement age in the US varies from 55 to no upper limit. Factors influencing retirement are health, finances, family, custom, and attitude toward work. Life after retirement is also varied and determined by:
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
~ Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Purpose in life involving both ideas and activities is strongly associated with better mental and physical health.
Two Faces of Aging
In contrast to other large mammals, the human lifespan continues to increase while fertility-span and health-span have not. And, despite a decline in physical health over the lifespan, the sense of well-being in humans increases. Resilience, optimism, social engagement, control of emotions, favoring positive emotions, experience-based decision making, and self-reflection all contribute to increased individual well-being. These elements also contribute to increased neuroplasticity.
Successful Aging Among Physicians
Of the 250,000 physicians over the age of 65 in the US, approximately 100,000 are still engaged in patient care.
“I think I do science better no than I did when I was younger. In science,
judgement is so important, and I now have a better understanding of
which problems are important and which are not.”
~ Dr. Eric Kandel, Nobel Laureate
Strengths of older physicians include: education, socioeconomic status, societal respect, positive personality traits, and less risk of burnout than among younger physicians.
Risk factors for older physicians include: stress, expectations of others, limited outside interests, and higher risks of substance abuse and suicide.
Strategies for Healthy and Happy Aging
General strategies for healthy and happy aging include; Thoughtful attention to diet and calorie restriction, physical and cognitive activity, stress reduction techniques, sleep hygiene, therapeutic and preventive healthcare, intergenerational activities, social support, new learning opportunities, volunteer activities and mentoring.
© 2014 Northern California Psychiatric Society