In this podcast (episode #542) and blog, I talk about what makes a good life. This is the subject of so many books and conversations, but in this episode I wanted to focus on Dr. Howard Tucker, who is currently 101 years old, and who was named by the Guinness World Book of Records as the world’s oldest practicing doctor. Who better to learn about longevity than from someone who is 101 old and still living the good life, and who is in fact still actively working as a doctor?
Tip 1: Dr. Tucker constantly keeps his mind active:
He does this by going to work every day. He keeps his mind busy even in his old age solving medical problems and keeping updated on the most current research. In fact, he even went to law school when he was 67 while practicing medicine full time!
Dr. Tucker constantly uses his mind and brain and has strived to learn new things—this is something he has done his entire life. He not only keeps his mind stimulated, but he exposes his brain to new challenges.
Throughout his life, Dr. Tucker has taken advantage of his brain’s neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to learn, change and grow. In fact, when we engage in mentally stimulating activities like Dr. Tucker, such as problem-solving, learning, and critical thinking at work or in our daily lives, we stimulate the brain's ability to adapt and grow. This can help compensate for age-related brain changes and maintain cognitive function!
What changes can you start building into your life today to keep your mind active and young?
Tip 2: Dr. Tucker stimulates his mind by remaining socially active:
As I have mentioned multiple times on my podcast, community is an essential part of humanity, and it is essential for our mind and brain health! Whether we like having alone time or not, we all need community.
In fact, engaging positively with people in our social support network correlates with several desirable physical and mental outcomes. Community involvement has been associated with mental health and cognitive resilience, reduction of chronic pain, lower blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health. High levels of social support can even predict longevity at least as reliably as healthy eating and regular exercise do, as Dr. Tucker’s own life shows. Moreover, social support is crucial if we want to learn how to manage our emotions and deal with the vagaries of life.
What changes can you start building into your life today to stay socially active?
Tip 3: Dr. Tucker keeps his mind active by reading for entertainment:
This is something that has always been one of my key recommendations for people to maintain their mental and brain health as they age. When we read, we are activating multiple parts of our brain, helping keep it young and healthy!
One reason why reading can help keep our mind sharp as we age is that it challenges our cognitive abilities. Reading requires us to comprehend and interpret complex information, follow plotlines, remember character details, and make connections between various elements of literature. Engaging in such cognitive tasks on a regular basis helps exercise our mental faculties, including memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. This mental stimulation can contribute to maintaining cognitive function and may reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline, such as dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Reading a good book can also be incredibly therapeutic! Not only does it build the brain, increasing your stress resilience, but it can be a very enjoyable and happy experience.
Visiting a library is a great place to start, and having a deadline to return the book will encourage you to read it, instead of just forgetting about it next to your bed or on your coffee table. It is also important to read books that interest you instead of just those you think you should read - which you are far less likely to finish. Always have an interesting book around in case you get stuck in a line or are waiting for an appointment! It may even be a good idea to schedule in time to read books you love or have been wanting to read; make it a fun experience you can look forward to during the day. And, if you find a book boring, stop reading it and start another! Life is too short to read books you don’t want to read.
How are you going to start incorporating more reading time into your schedule?
For more tips on living the good life and aging well, listen to my podcast (episode #542). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
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0:15, 2:14 Dr. Howard Tucker & living the good life
4:35, 8:21 The importance of keeping your mind active
12:45, 16:36 Why community is essential for optimum mind & body health
20:00, 21:49, 26:57 Reading for pleasure can help keep us young!
This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.