Dr Doug Wilson has expertise in many fields. Once head of Medicine and Regulatory Affairs for pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, Dr Wilson is also the author of several successful children’s books.
He is now sharing his wealth of knowledge on aging – and how to do so successfully.
His new book, inspired largely by the longevity of his parents who lived to the age of 97 and 99 respectively, gives practical advice to guide readers gently into their golden years.
Aging for Beginners draws upon research Dr Wilson stumbled upon whilst working at Oxford University’s Radcliffe Science Library. Here he discovered “extraordinary clues” about factors which led to aging and he has been wanting to discuss his findings ever since.
“I’ve kind of been busy the last 30 years” Dr Wilson laughs.
Dr Wilson’s book follows a set main principles and navigates a myriad of challenges that may be difficult for the aging population to face.
The books establishes the following guidelines:
- Assess how you are – your medical;
- Assess your finances;
- Adapt to that – change this, change that, do this, do that – improve your lot. Go ahead and do that because it’s your life;
- Accept what you have and what cards you have been dealt.
Health, Dr Wilson says, is the factor that needs major consideration. In his book he discusses the importance of accessing the best possible information about both physical and mental health.
“The one activity which is not drugs, that overpowers everything else in its benefits, is exercise. Whether one likes it or not, the more someone exercises – the better.”
He discusses the links between depression and isolation, hearing loss and dementia, whilst also suggesting that those who identify themselves as becoming physically more frail or unstable should take up resistance training and weights.
He says not to be afraid of finding out about medical problems, and not put off vital check-ups such as colonoscopies, mammograms and prostate checks.
“The first proposition is early diagnosis. Technologies are far, far superior nowadays – get the bugger early. Don’t put that off – go and get that done.”
As well as health, Dr Wilson says it is paramount to assess your finances and prepare yourself for a future in which those over the age of 65 may not receive the same support from the government.
Dr Wilson discusses the honest realities of an aging population in his new book.
“In the 1950s there were 70 tax payers to each pensioner. Now, if you take into consideration student debt, then you can’t buy a home…and at the same time your tax is going up to pay the ‘entitlement’ pensioners – we can’t afford it” he says.
“Predictions are that by 2050 one in three people will have dementia and in three people in the workforce will need to be employed as a carer – if you pay each carer minimum wage that is bout a billion dollars a year,” he adds.
Dr Wilson’s advice to prolong the need for support, and domestic care, is to continue being part of the workforce.
“Only retire if you can and want to,” he says.
Dr Wilson adds that those physically able, and willing, should work as long as their body allows in order to maintain an active mind and body.
“If you really want to get control of the rest of your life, because losing control is a horror, the issue is you might as well take charge yourself,” says Dr Wilson.
Dr Wilson’s book, Aging for Beginners, is available from Paper Plus for $39.99