The Longevity Prescription: The 8 Proven Keys to a Long, Healthy Life

Author:  Robert N. Butler, M.D. President and CEO of the International Longevity Center-USA, founder of the first department of geriatric medicine in the country at Mount Sinai and the National Institute on Aging within the National Institutes of Health, is widely regarded as the “father of geriatric medicine.” Dr. Butler is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and frequent adviser to the World Health Organization. The International Longevity Center champions research and policy focused on helping the senior population age well and live vibrant lives.  Dr. Butler’s previous book, The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life, reflected on the unprecedented leap in human life expectancy.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you should have a pretty good handle on the high price of an unhealthy lifestyle.  You may be surprised, however, to learn your genes do not predetermine your longevity.  A baby boomer turns sixty every 7.6 seconds, and many of those boomers approach life’s later years with fear and trepidation.  In this book, Dr. Butler sets out a definitive path to whole-life happiness, presenting research findings that balance physical health with emotional well -being — a map for revitalizing and reaping the rich rewards of the final third of life. What is new is that each individual has the capability to control health and well-being in the three-decade dividend or bonus years. The takeaway message is that no matter what your age, there are ways to enhance your longevity. Those who age well don’t do so accidentally. Rather, it is the achievement of deliberate action, of “embracing longevity.”

Each chapter of The Longevity Prescription outlines a plan for maintaining optimum wellness with specific, prescriptive advice proven to delay or eliminate chronic illness and promote health.  Dr. Butler keeps it simple. The eight essential components to utilize the “bonus years” are exercise, nutrition, mental vitality, sleep, relaxation, love and intimacy, community connections, and medical care. The action plan lists strategies to achieve each and the key message is that more than a little of your long-term health is up to you. Doctors call it “compression of morbidity” – everyone has the power to delay the period of decline that precedes the end of one’s life. How to achieve this?  You’ll have to read the book for more in-depth information relative to each strategy, but Dr. Butler’s prescriptions and strategies to achieve each are:

RX1 – Maintain mental vitality. Strategies: (1) practice cognitive calisthenics; (2) reconfigure the brain;     (3) improve lifestyle choices.

RX 2 – Nurture your relationships. He says a good marriage at fifty – not low cholesterol level at that age – is a better predictor of good health at eighty. Strategies: (1) maintain friendships; (2) make new friends; (3) maintain sexual communication.

RX 3 – Seek essential sleep. A good night’s sleep is a wellness strategy just as essential as exercise and diet. Strategies: (1) set yourself up for sleep; (2) set the scene for sleep.

RX 4 – Set stress aside.  Stress reduction is a wellness strategy equally essential as exercise and diet. Strategies: (1) exercise; (2) change your thinking.

RX 5 – Connect with your community. He says starting a second career in retirement can lead to contentment. Strategies: (1) invest in social capital; (2) pursue a second career.

RX 6 – Live the active Life. He stresses that maintaining a center of balance is a key to physical health. Strategies: (1) determine your body mass index (BMI); (2) select an aerobic exercise; (3) strengthen your muscles; (4) don’t take your balance for granted; (5) keep muscles flexible.

RX 7 – Eat your way to health. Strategies: (1) review your eating rituals; (2) obey the nutritional 10 commandments; (3) consume needed nutrients; (4) make healthy food choices.

RX 8 – Practice prevention. Strategies: (1) master the medical tests; (2) investigate the internet; (3) be a good patient.

It is important to stay with these strategies to age healthfully and happily.  All are of value only to the degree that you use them.  Many of us already practice some, or most of these strategies and appreciate the great value older people contribute to a society. It all boils down to lifestyle choices, what-to-do to be a “successful ager.”  We recommend The Longevity Prescription which offers a window into the work and “intellectual traffic” at the International Longevity Center. You may discover a worthwhile nugget to incorporate into your lifestyle to maximize your personal three-decade dividend.