Wednesday, February 19, 2014

TOP STORY >> Geriatrician: Live life to the fullest

Leader staff writer

Live life to the fullest and nurture loving relationships to stay healthy, Little Rock geriatrician Dr. David Lipschitz told seniors Thursday during the North Pulaski Retired Teachers Association meeting.

He was the guest speaker for the event held in the meeting room at First Electric Cooperative, 1000 S. JP Wright Loop Road in Jacksonville.

Lipschitz said he just turned 70, as old as some and younger than others in attendance. “And all of us are still frisky. The idea we’re elderly is just ridiculous…One of the advantages of being 70 is I am still able to do everything I want, but I’m wiser,” he said.

“You can retire from your job, but you cannot retire from life,” Lipschitz added later. “We’re free to be who we want to be.”

He briefly threw his hat in the ring concerning Arkansas’ unique private-option health care plan that is facing the threat of being defunded this session.

The private option must get 75 percent approval from the House to accept and spend federal money on health coverage for the working poor. The House failed to do so Tuesday, but will vote again today.

Private option was the state’s unique way to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, which includes Medicaid expansion.

Lipschitz said the older generation needed to gain more education about how to navigate the health-care system.

He isn’t pro-Democrat or pro-Republican, the geriatrician insisted. Lipschitz described himself as “pro-health.”

He never turns anyone away, whether they have insurance or not, he continued.

He has been fired for costing a hospital too much money because of that attitude, Lipschitz said.

The geriatrician said everyone deserves a roof over their heads, an education, food and access to health care. He added that America is unhealthier than any other first-world country.

Lipschitz blamed the disparity of income and the “sedentary and wrong-eating” lifestyles that are common here for that fact.

The uninsured were draining resources by going to the emergency room to see a doctor and by seeking medical attention only when they were very ill, Lipschitz continued.

The state’s private-option approach is “working,” he argued.

Lipschitz then asked that those in the room call their representatives in the House and Senate to weigh in on the funding decision.

But the health-care talk was only a brief subtopic of what the geriatrician discussed during the meeting.

Lipschitz said 60,000 people retire every day, and that number will increase to 100,000 in the next five years.

There is power in numbers, he noted. Lipschitz said his generation — the generation most of his audience was a part of — would determine who leads the country and what direction it will take. “We are the No. 1 spender, and everybody is interested in us,” he added.

But Lipschitz focused most on how long-term relationships play a role in health.

The stress of day-to-day life is a critical factor in health, he noted.

Love of others — romantic or platonic — and love of oneself relieves that stress.

The geriatrician was very supportive of long-term romantic relationships. A 70-year-old man has a 30 percent chance of dying within a year of his wife’s death, he told the crowd.

Lipschitz said, “Love is one of the most important keys to longevity” and “if you want to be a better man, think like a woman.”

He also said there are three kinds of widows — women like his mother, women like his aunt and women who aren’t interested in dating because their late husband was the only one for them.

His mother knew how to flirt, having three husbands and one long-term significant other. “All four died from exhaustion,” Lipschitz joked.

Then there is his aunt, who asks the geriatrician to find her a man. Lipschitz said she struggles with dating, telling him, “The only problem is they’re all with your mother.”

Laughter is also great medicine, he continued.

“The only infectious thing that is good for you is laughter,” Lipschitz said.

Seniors need to watch what they eat too, he noted. The geriatrician said seniors should consume the right fats, the right proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables and not too much starch.

Lipschitz also encouraged the parents at the meeting to be prepared for dependency as they age because only one-third of the older population is independent.

Half of 85-year-olds and between 10 and 15 percent of 90- to 95-year-olds are able to live independently, the geriatrician explained.

Lipschitz told those at the meeting to stop feeling bad about burdening their children after all they’ve done for their kids. He urged the seniors to tell their children, “You owe me.”

Lipschitz then joked about his mother being the “world authority on Jewish guilt.”

He said she always says things like, “thank God your father is not alive to see you,” “with you as a son, it’s no wonder I have high blood pressure” and “of my children, you’re the brightest but not my favorite.”

But, the geriatrician explained, he knew his mother loved him because she would always place her hand on people’s shoulders and brag, “he’s done very well.”

Relationships with parents, children, the community, friends, acquaintances and others also provide life-extending love, Lipschitz.

The geriatrician’s Dr. David Health and Wellness Clinic is at 415 N. McKinley St., Suite 130 in Little Rock.