Annual Physical Exam for Seniors: Mind, Body, Spirit

As Baby Boomers emerge in the decades to come, we will all learn more than we ever dreamed  about the mind-body-spirit connection.  We’re already aware that, if we want to remain healthy into our geriatric years, we need to take good care of our physical bodies, keep our minds fed with activity and nurture the spirit within for a sense of serenity and contentment.

For some, taking care of the body is the easiest task.  We get our “Welcome to Medicare” exam within six months of entry into the program (by the way, Medicare pays for this exam in full!).  Many annual screening tests are also paid in full by Medicare, including

Cardiovascular screening

Smoking cessation

Various cancer tests (mammograms, pap test, pelvic exam for women; PSA for men; colon screening for both)

Flu, pneumonia and Hepatitis B shots

Bone density testing

Diabetes screening, supplies and self-management training

Glaucoma tests

One-time “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm screening

However, taking care of the body accomplishes only one-third of the mission.  The mind-body connection alone has been the subject of researchers’ attention for a number of years now.  What we’ve learned is just how closely these two members of the human body work together.   Physical health is affected by mind-health, by how and what we think and feel.  This is also known as emotional health, recognizing that our emotions/feelings originate in our minds/brain.   In particular, our immune system can be damaged by poor mind health, thus creating dis-ease and illness.  Stimulating the brain with activity (puzzle games, reading, new learning experiences, daily conversation) shows a remarkable positive correlation with a healthy body.  Likewise, managing emotional reaction (fear, anxiety, anger) to daily life events is critical to keeping cortisol levels in the brain from damaging the immune system and rendering it incapable of protecting the body (its primary function).  Mind-health and body-health are inseparable!

Spirit-health is the third component in the mission to keep Baby Boomers vital!  For a long time many believed participation in a religious group was the only way the spirit could be nurtured.  And some still hold that belief; it works for them.  However, increasingly, spirit-health is seen from a widely-diverse world view and includes nurturing through meditation, reverence for the beauty of nature, reading thoughtful books on developing the sprit-filled life and living with a focus on spirit-health that carries importance equal to mind- and body-health.    The joy-filled spirit provides daily sustenance required for healthy and happy living!

There’s more in the weeks and months ahead at Senior Citizen Journal about the inseparability of mind, body and spirit!