I was going to write about how certain foods impact dementia risk. But my good friend and ever present work companion, Marilyn Treadway, retired today. Marilyn was my medical assistant (MA) for the past 17 years although the past 2 years she worked some at the front desk after she injured her ankle. All in all, Marilyn worked for 40 years taking care of patients in Ob-Gyn – first for Dr. Morris at WNC Ob-Gyn until I took over for him in 1999. She helped me to dissolve that practice in 2012 and to start my new practice in February of 2013. I feel like I could not have achieved what I did much less enjoyed what I did as much had she not been my loyal, hard working, caring assistant. Marilyn became family to me and then to my son Beck who came with me to the office part of the week from age 3 weeks until he was 6 months old. Marilyn was so dedicated to her patients and to me and is the most trustworthy person I have ever met. Dr. Morris conveyed three pearls to me upon handing over the baton to his precious practice and one was that Marilyn was an Angel right here on Earth. I took that to mean that she was pretty irreplaceable and indispensable. I was right. Needless to say I will miss her very much.

Retirement. It means to withdraw from one’s active working life. It can also mean a place of seclusion or privacy and synonyms are retreat and withdrawal. To me that could be good or bad so I imagine the quality of retirement and similarly it’s benefit to the individual depends somewhat on the reason for retirement and what the person makes of it

Today the New York Times reported on a study published this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which suggested that overall retirement may be good for your health. The Australian study followed 27,000 people over 3 years and about 3,000 people retired during that time period. They compared retirees with their working peers measuring such lifestyle factors as sleep, diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption. They found that retirees significantly exercised and slept more and female retirees were more likely to quit smoking than those still working. There were no differences in alcohol and fruit and vegetable consumption.

Our population is aging which carries with it increased risks for chronic non-communicable disease. Morbidity and mortality may be significantly reduced through adoption of healthy lifestyles in middle or older age. Retirement provides one an opportunity to improve upon unhealthy habits in exchange for more beneficial practices. At this important juncture most often we suddenly have more time on our hands – more time to reduce stress through exercise, meditation, and being with our pets and loved ones. We have time to learn about healthier eating habits and to shop for and prepare meals and to enjoy other leisure activities and to engage our brains by learning new skills and participating in new activities such as dancing. Hopefully we reach retirement healthy so that we can take advantage of all of the possibilities in store for us. When I told my son, Beck, who is now 5 years old today that Marilyn would no longer be working for me he asked, “Is Marilyn dead”?! I said, “no – that’s just the point – we want to retire long before that particular finale so that we can enjoy it and do the things we never could find enough time for when we worked”. Marilyn and to those of you nearing retirement age or recently retired, Carpe Diem!!!