Who needs to lie about their age when they can just actually look younger? A practicing physician of 30 years, Dr. James L. Hardeman is giving people all the information needed to both look and feel better in his new book Appears Younger Than Stated Age: A Doctor’s Secrets on the Art of Staying Young (Intensivist Press, Fall 2012).
Dr. Hardeman’s philosophy to look younger is quite simple, not some gimmick that yields false results. “No such magical formula exists,” he explains.
Titled for what generations of doctors call the occasional patient who looks good for his or her age, the book reveals the strategies developed after thousands of patient interviews and exams. And Dr. Hardeman’s goal is the same as the “smoker’s face” phenomenon – which described that smoking causes premature facial wrinkles – to successfully create a desire in people to care for their bodies in order to maintain a youthful, attractive appearance.
“There was a surge of smokers who were interested in quitting as a consequence,” Dr. Hardeman said. “They were basically saying that they knew smoking could kill them, but they wanted to quit so they didn’t look wrinkled. It helped inspire my book title. It doesn’t matter if people read the book to be healthy or to look younger; the end result is the same.”
And with over 60 percent of Americans being overweight or obese, Dr. Hardeman said it’s ultimately patriotic to be healthy.
“If every American assumed personal responsibility for his or her good health, not only would social programs like Medicaid and Medicare be more solvent, but there would less of a transfer of wealth from those who take good care of themselves to those who don’t,” he said. “Thus, the notion of health care patriotism should appeal to both sides of the political spectrum.”
What readers will learn from Dr. Hardeman’s book:
- Simple tips and methods to maintain your ideal body weight
- The human characteristics that promote weight gain and poor health and how to combat them
- Fitness habits that will last a lifetime
- Dietary strategies to preserve balance of the all important intake and output of calories
- How to keep from developing degenerative arthritis that so often leads to the vicious cycle of weight gain, inactivity, and deterioration of health
Techniques and motivation to transform yourself into someone who looks, feels and is younger than stated age.
I entered the hospital room and did a double-take. Ada Jones was an eighty-nine-year-old female who needed to see me for a pulmonary consultation because of pneumonia. But this patient did not look eighty-nine. As she rested quietly with eyes closed, I quickly thumbed through her medical record. A phrase caught my eye: “Appears younger than stated age.” Evidently I wasn’t the only one who had noted her youthful appearance.
I gently woke her and introduced myself, unobtrusively glancing at her hospital identification bracelet to confirm that she was, indeed, Ada Jones. “You look very young for your age,” I told her during the course of our conversation. She gave a half-smile and replied, “Well, the pneumonia is sure making me feel older. But soon enough, I’ll be back on the tennis court…”
“Appears younger than stated age” is actual medical terminology occasionally placed in the History and Physical (H&P), a document that records an interview and physical exam of every patient admitted to the hospital. Some of the descriptions in the H&P use language that might be undecipherable to non-medical readers. However, general appearance is always commented upon and is more self- explanatory and understandable to all. For example, “alert, awake, and in no acute distress” is a common entry. Although certain factors, such as attractiveness, are not included (one should not compare me to George Clooney on the basis of an H&P, for instance), there is probably no more complimentary a general description than “appears younger than stated age” (AYTSA). The term means what it says: The patient looks good for her age. And it is certainly much better than some of the other terms I’ve seen and used in an H&P, including: disheveled, disoriented, obese, comatose, or, perhaps worst of all, appears older than stated age.
Why is it then that one ninety-year-old looks seventy-five, lives with his wife self-sufficiently, drives, shops, and even plays a little golf once a week while a seventy-five-year-old looks ninety, resides in a nursing home in a persistent vegetative state, and is fed Ensure through a gastric tube? Or how does one woman at forty-eight have the demeanor of a thirty-five-year-old, run marathons, and ski black diamonds while her younger sister has gained an additional thirty-five pounds, complains of knee pain, has been diagnosed with new-onset diabetes, and could pass for the way older sibling?
Obviously, luck plays a big role in health and often trumps all other factors. Genetics, which falls into the category of luck, is the ultimate uncontrollable aspect of health. Yet there are so many things that we do have control over, and AYTSA patients seem to fit a pattern of self- determination, self-discipline, and self-respect.
They are close to their ideal body weights. They don’t smoke. They either don’t drink alcohol or limit it to one or two drinks per day. They exercise regularly and do not overeat. They seem to be more optimistic than average, and they often are involved in long-term marriages. They take their medications regularly and have periodic checkups. In essence, they are healthy, and healthy people look younger. That’s pretty much it. Simple, right? But unfortunately they are more often the exception than the rule.
I can hear the skeptics among you at this juncture. “Sure, simple … in theory.” Well, I agree with you … in theory. But the purpose of this book is to demonstrate the relative ease and simplicity of implementing the common-sense principles that will make you look younger and, more importantly, feel younger, whether you are in your twenties or your eighties. And let me be clear that I am not just promoting appearance over substance. We are not talking about the faux youth of plastic surgery or Botox here. People who appear younger than their stated ages are usually physiologically younger than their chronologic peers, often simply because they have decided to take better care of them- selves. In other words, healthy people not only look younger, but their bodies function at a more youthful level, and protective changes may possibly even occur in their bodies’ chromosomes as a result of proper diet and exercise. This adds both quantity and quality to their lives.
My father was a college history professor, and like most good teachers, he occasionally sprinkled his lectures with life lessons. This analogy is one of my favorites, and I have repeated it countless times to my patients. Imagine that once you learned to drive, you were given a free car of your choosing. But there is a catch: It would be the only car you would own in your entire lifetime. Likely, you would take fanatically good care of your car, washing and waxing it often, changing the oil on schedule, and getting regular maintenance work. Well, this is the only body you’ll ever have, so you’d better take very good care of it.
Who is likely to benefit from this book?
- The twenty-year-old who can cement in good health habits that will last a lifetime.
- The thirty-something who is starting to see for the first time the inevitable changes that aging brings.
- The forty-year-old who has been told that life begins in the fifth decade but whose youth seems to be disappearing faster than an object in the rearview.
- The sixty and above crowd who truly can do anything they want if they stay physically fit.
• And, finally, the elderly (whatever age that is) who can participate in more activities and enjoy life to a fuller extent than they ever thought possible.
Although the principles in this book would ideally be started in childhood, people of any age can benefit by becoming more fit in both body and mind starting today. There is truly no better time to start than now.
This introduction would not be complete without a more detailed analysis of the expression appears younger than stated age. Its origins are unknown. An Internet search reveals very little. A 1993 letter to the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine remarks, “An assessment of whether a patient appears younger or older than ‘stated age’ has long been taught and recorded as a component of the physical exam.”3 The term has been verbally passed from generation to generation of doctors who are particularly suited to make this observation since they are nearly always aware of their patients’ ages. My 1976 copy of DeGowin and DeGowin, 4 the medical school textbook of how to do a history and physical exam, does not even mention it.
If I were coining the phrase, I might have used “chronologic” instead of “stated” age, because the latter somehow seems to imply that the patient is being less than forthcoming. However, I suspect that the description originated in a simpler time when our culture was less infatuated with youth. It is obviously a subjective assessment, and I am not even certain how relevant it is to the medical record, though the description of the physical exam is intended to convey a medical portrait of the patient—and the phrase certainly does. Regardless of its origins, “appears younger than stated age” is the perfect introduction to a handbook on the art of aging well.
About the Author
Dr. James L. Hardeman has been a practicing physician for 30 years.
Triple board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease, and Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Hardeman has maintained the demanding schedule of both hospital-based medicine and a busy office practice. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from University of California at Irvine he attended Baylor College of Medicine where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Postgraduate training in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine took place at USC and UCI, and he has been given numerous awards for excellence in patient care from St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California where he lives and works.
Over many decades and thousands of patient interviews and examinations, Dr. Hardeman has developed numerous strategies and recommendations for sustaining good health. He applies these methods personally, in patient care and through his debut book Appears Younger Than Stated Age (Intensivist Press, Fall 2012).
A vegetarian of 30 years, whose hobbies include exercising, snowboarding, surfing and mountain biking, he likes to be able to say he’s maintained the same weight and hairstyle since age 18. But his greatest source of pride is his two children and his 37-year marriage to his original wife.
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