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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

DRILL INTO GERONTOLOGY

How Can a Gerontologist Help Me?

My goals as a gerontologist are to empower, educate, and energize women using great information backed up by sound science. We deserve to be the masters of our health and our destiny. Obviously, we have merited that unique focus all along, but thank goodness society is finally catching up.  We now see women across the planet stepping up and taking their rightful places as full creators of their future. I want to help each one of them access the very best version of herself.                                                             

I knew from the beginning of my most recent return to school, that I wanted to concentrate on issues facing women as they age, for both my own journey and to help all my friends live long, healthy lives so that I would have playmates! But seriously, I saw a great need: For so long, few health and science studies focused on women, and only a scant amount had used women participants.  For example, older studies on testing hormones used men as the participants! (How bizarre is that thinking?) Researchers and doctors just took the results of studies on men and applied the same guidelines to women, because women and men are exactly alike.  😉

Eventually studies featured female participants, but only in the last twenty years or so. Still, nowhere could I find clear, concise information regarding women’s health and well-being as seen through a gerontological lens—a holistic lens—as gerontology is a holistic discipline. Holistic means that since all our parts are intimately connected, to fully understand ourselves as complicated human beings we must look at all the different aspects of a person—the psychological, physical, and social elements. Gerontologists are social scientists.

How are Gerontology and Geriatrics Different?

Geriatrics is the study of the diseases of the elderly and focuses solely on medical conditions. 

Do Only Seniors Need a Gerontologist?

It is most often that older people seek the assistance of a gerontologist, however, I know that the younger a person starts following the advice we offer, the more vibrant they will be throughout their lives. Yet, most folks believe a gerontologist only helps seniors. If we could only get the younger ones to be interested (or think they will ever need us!)

How Does a Gerontologist Help with Everyday Living?

My job as a gerontologist for both my readers and my clients is to pull together the best science from each discipline on a subject, and filter it through my understanding and expertise. Then I offer non-pharmaceutical, life-enhancing suggestions and solutions to change the course of our aging. I want my readers to lead lives filled with more vibrancy, and so hopefully, more fun, and with greater opportunities for heart connections and satisfaction on all levels.

I “walk the walk and talk the talk,” as we say, by road-testing my theories on myself first before I suggest them to you. If it doesn’t seem to work, out it goes. I pass along the success stories through my articles and videos and hope they will help women, as they have helped me, feel more energetic, look younger, think clearer and sharper, remember better, and wake up each day excited to have another day here on this planet to manifest my dreams. Even if we have limitations or challenges, we can always strive to be more vibrant.

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)

Earlier this year I became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, CAPS for short, to further help seniors stay in their homes by retrofitting those homes to accommodate their changing needs. My thirty years of being an ASID interior designer and owning my own interior design business give me decades of experience added to my gerontological knowledge, to find just the right, and beautiful, solution to every home’s challenges. Adding this important component to my erector set, I can help build a better model for our future selves to be as vibrant as possible throughout our lives.

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Who Will Care for Us Seniors?

Recently, an article appeared in the national press highlighting the shortage of geriatric medical doctors, called Geriatricians, who specialize in the diseases of older people– folks typically sixty-five and over, who suffer from a variety of diseases. Thoughtful friends sent me the article, several asking for my opinion. Today, I would like to offer my opinion in print.

First the really good news: according to the federal model, 70% of people over sixty-five do not see a geriatrician. The 30% who do often fall into the over eighty-five category and suffer from three or more chronic conditions. These statistics tell me that there are millions of fairly healthy seniors out there, and research backs this up. I find these numbers very encouraging, and believe these folks are more aware of healthy practices, and so take better care of themselves. That’s where gerontologists like me, and some MDs, come in because we promote ways to keep the aging body and mind healthy and free of disease. Prevention and retention are the most important words when it comes to getting older. Every time I put fingers to the keyboard my dominant thought is, how can I offer advice, or highlight research, which will help prevent decline and retain or enhance our precious facilities for our entire lives?

The truth is it’s easier to add things, whether they be supplements, healing foods, better self-care, regular sleep, and exercise, and greater attention to filling our lives with joy, especially when we are still quite healthy and mobile, than to fight our way back to health after developing a chronic condition. This, I believe is the future of the best practice of healthcare: preventative choices we can add into our day and so develop deep reserves which will keep us healthy and vibrant as we get older.

Should we need health care professionals, I love the action Dr. Mary Tinetti, Chief of Geriatrics at the Yale School of Medicine endorses by having “geriatricians to serve as ‘a small, elite work force’ who help train whole institutions in the specifics of care for older adults.” These other fields include nurse-practitioners, PAs, and pharmacists, all who become the foot soldiers for geriatricians. This extension of knowledge and care through different avenues will, I hope, serve those 30% well, as these medical professionals add their expertise to that of the geriatric specialists.

Why I like this idea so much stems from the unacceptable stereotype: ageism. The more fields (and the many people in those fields) that embrace and deal with aging, the less ageism will exist. My hope is that one day soon the general public will view aging issues without prejudice, but rather like pediatrics, just another part of human healthcare. With the help of those 70% of seniors who are doing well, the sea change is coming.

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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People Ask Me, “Please Define Gerontology.”

Sometimes I am asked to explain the difference between the words gerontology and geriatrics. Geriatrics, and geriatricians, who are often medical doctors, focus only on the medical conditions and diseases of the aged, while Gerontology is the study of the process of aging, which includes wisdom for aging gracefully, and aging with dignity. Gerontology and gerontologists look at the multi-faceted aspects of aging and the aging process, as it relates to the physical health, mental health, emotional well being, and social relationships of seniors. It is called a multidisciplinary field, as it brings together the study of psychology (the study of the mind and the mental processes with the science of personality), biology (the general study of the body), physiology (the mechanical, physical, and biochemical processes of the body, or the functions and processes of the body) and sociology (the study of social relationships). In essence, we examine (treat) the whole person. Ours is the study of body, mind, and spirit 

Gerontologists also consider the theories of aging, age-related diseases, and the risk factors associated with aging. We look at ways to slow the aging process and disrupt aging.  Most importantly, gerontologists look at preventable changes in our health and the many options for healthy aging, successful aging, as it is sometimes called. This information is constantly emerging from the latest science which supports aging in place. We study how to preserve and enhance our cognition and memory, and optimize all aspects of our aging brain with healthy foods and supplements chosen to best nourish our bodies as we get older. We pay attention to how social relationships and social connection work to keep us vital and engaged every day. We also look at healthy ways to reverse premature aging in our brains and bodies, without drugs or questionable chemicals.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau the life expectancy in the U.S. will be 77 years for men and 82 years for women by the year 2020. We, the aging population, face major challenges in maintaining our health and wellness. Certified gerontologists are specifically trained to meet and answer these challenges. I love what I do to help people, especially women, be as vibrant as they can be at every age, and I am honored to be an aging expert in service to my friends, fans, and followers around the world.  

Until next time….Be Vibrant!

Meditation App - LJ Rohan

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Why I Became a Gerontologist

  The Adventures of LJ & GE

The Adventures of LJ & GE

From the time I was twelve years old, along with exploring art history and all aspects of design—interior and architectural design, fashion and jewelry design– I loved science, especially biology. And, I loved doing research, digging deeply and using cross-referencing to find the answer. I wore out our home encyclopedias, and practically lived in the library; obviously long before the Internet, when mastering the card catalog was a science in itself! Basically, I was your garden-variety academic nerd. Severe endometriosis changed my life at twenty-two, and I dove into the world of health and healing, vitamins and supplements, diet and exercise. Coming forward thirty-three years, I read an article that said American colleges and universities wouldn’t be able to train the large number of gerontologists needed for our aging population. After looking up gerontology, I knew this was what I wanted to do for my second act.

I also knew from the beginning of my most recent return to school, that I wanted to concentrate on issues facing women as they age, for both my own journey and to help all my friends live long, healthy lives so that I would have playmates! But seriously, I saw a great need: for so long, so few health and science studies focused on women, and only a scant amount had used women participants.  For example, older studies on testing hormones used men as the participants! (How bizarre is that thinking?) Researchers and doctors just took the results of studies on men and applied the same guidelines to women, because women and men are exactly alike 😉

Eventually studies featured female participants, but only in the last twenty years, or so. Still, nowhere could I find good, clear, concise information regarding women’s health and well-being as seen through a gerontological lens—a holistic lens, as gerontology is a holistic discipline. Holistic means that since all our parts are intimately connected, to fully understand ourselves as complicated human beings we must look at all the different aspects of a person—the psychological, physical, and social elements.

My goals are to empower, educate, and energize women using great information backed up by sound science. We deserve to be the masters of our health and our destiny. Obviously, we have merited that unique focus all along, but thank goodness society is finally catching up.  We now see women across the planet stepping up and taking their rightful places as full creators of their future. I want to help each one of them access the very best version of herself.                                                            

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Explaining Gerontology

Before deciding to return to school and become a Certified Gerontologist, not only could I not describe what a gerontologist did, I am not sure I could even have spelled it correctly. Sadly for all of us, I now explain what it means many times a day. I say sadly, because the lack of knowledge about this field reflects not ignorance on the part of the asker, but the failure of the world/media to allot much time or space to talking about humans getting older—something we all do, unless our time is up and we join the spirit realm.

What baffles me even more comes from the U.S. Census Bureau stating that by this year, 2020, approximately 71.1 million people over fifty-five in the US can expect to live to 77 years old if you are a man, and 82 years old if you are a woman. That’s a lot of folks who, until the last few years, have been virtually ignored. Well, the good news is research began in earnest about twenty years ago, and that data, along with an explosion of new studies, are suggesting ways to help us age more vibrantly.

explaining gerontology
The Adventures of LJ and GE™

Uniquely poised to understand and interpret this cavalcade of data are gerontologists, because gerontology is the only field which looks at and combines:

  • The study of the body (biology)
  • The mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions and processes of the body (physiology)
  • The study of behavior and emotions (psychology)
  • The human social relationships (sociology)
  • The spiritual beliefs many of us embrace—the way of our hearts (without getting specific about religion and its related dogma.)

But there is more. The important research from the biological, physiological, social, and psychological sciences provides us valuable insights about old age, but the sciences are driven by the humanistic studies in aging–the greater imagination, hopes, fears, and experiences of people. To quote three much respected gerontologists, Dr. Thomas R. Cole, Dr. Ruth E. Ray, and Dr. Robert Kastenbaum “[The added element of] humanistic studies in aging… enlighten and inform traditional scientific perspectives.” Gerontology blends all these elements together like the flour, eggs, yeast and water used to make a wonderful loaf of bread, and gerontologists are the bakers, kneading and baking the dough, giving rise to something new, whole and complete from these individual ingredients.

So then what is geriatrics and who are geriatricians? The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine defines these terms as follows:

“Geriatric Medicine is a specialty that focuses on medical issues and diseases of aging, and of old age. A Geriatrician most often treats people over the age of 60 who are either healthy or have multiple medical issues.  Medical care becomes more complex as you age and encounter more medical conditions.  A Geriatrician is an expert in how medical conditions impact one another, in how each medication interacts with others and how both medical conditions and medications uniquely affect you as you age.”

Source: (https://www.med.unc.edu/aging/patients/what-is-geriatric-medicine)

Clearly, there is a need for both specialties, gerontology and geriatrics, since we each focus on different aspects of the aging process. However, it is my sincere desire that by offering sound science on how to age vibrantly, you, dear reader, will spend more time zipping around on your moped, dancing to the music of The Platters, and loving life and your partner, than warming a seat in a geriatrician’s office! 

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what gerontology is, and what we gerons are trying to do. If not, please send questions! I love providing answers 😉

You may also want to read this article with an overview of how a gerontologist can help.

Until next time……Be Vibrant!

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