Health & Wellness

BrainContinuous Renewal – Never Stop Getting Better 

By Joseph Maroon, MD, FACS 

When are you too old? That is a question we ask ourselves throughout our life. In our twenties, before having a family, we might ask: I am too old to play with toys? And yet once we have children or later grandchildren, we again have fun with the Play-Doh, dolls and the toy trucks of our youth. Society often tries to answer these questions for us.  You’re too old for a Happy Meal, says the clerk, or perhaps later your family says, “you’re too old to drive a car.  

Asking the question, “Am I too old?” often comes from a feeling of defeat or failure to do something we used to do in our youth. Indeed, health reasons and other circumstances can limit our choices, but for those who have a choice, don’t limit yourself based on your age! 

I, too, starting in my sixties, began to put up mental walls and limits. But I decided to push back and said: Why not? I described this change as a renewal in my life. Rather than the degradation with aging, I have experienced a period of renewed vitality, even though I am, at times, painfully conscious of my own aging and ongoing entropy. 

This renewal phenomena was actually described more than 2,700 years ago by the prophet Isaiah when he wrote: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). 

Ironically, for many years, this verse was a mantra for me used to suppress pain and fatigue during athletic endurance events like the Ironman triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. I desperately wanted to “run and not be weary and walk and not be faint.” 

It was in my early 60s, however, when I finally appreciated what Isaiah additionally meant by “renewed strength.” Life can be a series of “renewals” rather than irreversible decline, even in one’s sixties and seventies. 

I discovered that some of the best principles to live by don’t have to stop later in life. We should do the best we can to do the “right thing” at the right time — morally, physically and spiritually. By embracing religion, meditation, a strong family unit or a set of guiding principles, we can reduce stress and improve longevity and even prevent chronic diseases associated with aging. 

Regular exercise promotes healthy longevity and prevents common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline. It also is the most effective antidepressant. Finally, avoid excess in all things, especially alcohol and excessive weight gain.  

There are those such as Ponce de Leon who search incessantly for a short cut to the elixir of youth but are doomed to failure. I truly have experienced the “renewal” and you can too. Continue to find new projects, challenges and commitments, both in and outside of career and family, cultivate stimulating friendships, travel, choose a healthy diet, commit to regular exercise and better manage stress through prayer, meditation, yoga and others. Search for the renewal and creativity within oneself; make better choices now and strive to do what is right. Reap the fruits of better lifestyle choices early on and with renewed strength for the rest of your life.  

Excepts of this article have appeared at   

March 2016 


National Aging in Place Pittsburgh Chapter
Look for Programs in Your Community That Can Help You Stay Informed and Stay Connected
By: Patricia Neurohr, Chair
One of the greatest challenges of aging is how your support network changes. Staying connected isn’t always easy as you grow older—even for those who have always had an active social life. Career changes, retirement, illness, death, and moves out of the local area can take away close friends and family members. And the older you get, the more people you inevitably lose. In later life, getting around may become difficult for either you or members of your social network.
It’s important to find ways to reach out and connect to others, regardless of whether or not you live with a spouse or partner. Having an array of people you can turn to for company and support as you age is a buffer against loneliness, depression, disability, hardship, and loss.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to be with other people. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you get out of the house (when possible) and socialize.  In addition to participating in community events and educational programs in your area, here are some other ways to stay connected.
  • Connect regularly with friends and family. Spend time with people you enjoy and who make you feel upbeat. It may be a neighbor who you like to exercise with, a lunch date with an old friend, or shopping with your children. Even if you are not close by, call or email frequently to keep relationships fresh.
  • Make an effort to make new friends. As you lose people in your circle, it is vital to make new connections so your circle doesn’t dwindle. Make it a point to befriend people who are younger than you. Younger friends can reenergize you and help you see life from a fresh perspective.
  • Spend time with at least one person every day. Whatever your living or work situation, you shouldn’t be alone day after day. Phone or email contact is not a replacement for spending time with other people. Regular face-to-face contact helps you ward off depression and stay positive.
  • Volunteer. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to strengthen social bonds and meet others, and the meaning and purpose you find in helping others will enrich and expand your life. Volunteering is a natural way to meet others interested in similar activities or who share similar values. Even if your mobility becomes limited, you can get involved by volunteering on the phone.
  • Find support groups in times of change. If you or a loved one is coping with a serious illness or recent loss, it can be very helpful to participate in a support group with others undergoing the same challenges.
If you are having difficulty getting around or unable to leave your home there are vetted resources available through the local Pittsburgh National Aging in Place Council.  These service providers can offer assistance, transportation, companionship or help in your home.  One or two visits a week can make a big difference.  Email: for more information.