Culver City Doctor Says Best Preparation for Tomorrow is Being the Best ‘You’ Today
Many factors influence healthy aging, including genetics and lifestyle. While genetics are not within our control, lifestyle changes—such as diet, exercise, mental acuity and regular doctor appointments—can make the difference in how you spend your golden years.
“I always tell my patients that the greatest preparation for tomorrow is being the best ‘you’ today,” said Dr. Brittany Brinley, an internal medicine physician at Southern California Hospital at Culver City who specializes in geriatric care. “This is why you’ll have one 70-year-old in a nursing home, bed-bound, and another 70-year-old finishing a marathon. There are such huge disparities, and not everything is preventable, but a lot of things are.”
The number of people aged 65 and older in the United States has grown rapidly since 2010, driven by the aging of the Baby Boomers. This means that geriatric medicine has significantly expanded over the last 20 years in response to the needs and demands of an aging population.
The National Council on Aging reports that 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68 percent have at least two. The most common conditions are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, ischemic/coronary heart disease, and diabetes.
“These can lead to long-term conditions that progress as people age, such as congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertensive heart disease, and others,” said Dr. Brinley. “These conditions can eventually become debilitating to the point where seniors can no longer manage it themselves.”
With her patients, Dr. Brinley maintains a focus on preventative medicine, which uses strategies to preserve, maintain, or restore function to prevent disability and disease. Ultimately, she believes that individuals can always make improvements to the quality of their health, no matter what age they are or how poor their habits may currently be.
“Say you’re in your 50s and overweight with high cholesterol,” she said. “You can still lose that weight, bring down that cholesterol, and start exercising and eating right. It’s never too late; start now and get the most out of your life that you can.”
Dr. Brinley, who serves as the hospital’s nursing education and subacute medical director, sees patients at the hospital, in various nursing homes, and at her outpatient clinic in Culver City. She puts a high priority and emphasis on issues faced by the elderly, which often include multiple medical conditions, as well as social disadvantages, emotional vulnerability, and financial challenges.