Growing old disgracefully

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“Don’t worry about old age. It doesn’t last that long,” quipped Dr. Iain Corness at the Sunday, November 16, meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. Dr. Iain is a medical doctor who works as a consultant at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya. He was speaking on the topic “Growing old disgracefully.” Dr. Iain has spoken to the club on numerous occasions. In addition to racing cars he has many interests, including writing several weekly columns for the Pattaya Mail covering restaurant reviews, photography, and automobiles. He has also written two books about Thailand entitled “Farang” and “Farang the Sequel.” He moved to Thailand in 1997.

He began by pointing out that aging is a natural process. Further, as you grow older, you lose some elasticity in the tissues. As a result, your muscles don’t work as well, your ligaments toughen up and your skin tears more easily. You develop mechanical problems such as arthritis. The knees and hips are the first to go. Dr. Iain says they have been genetically programmed to last about 70 years. And that’s just the physical dimension, Dr. Iain said.  On the mental side, for example, you may search in vain for a word you know you should remember, only to have it suddenly resurface twenty minutes or several hours later.

MC Richard Silverberg introduces the PCEC’s guest speaker, Dr. Iain Corness and describes his many talents. Dr. Iain is well known to the Pattaya Expat community; not only as a consultant with Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, but as writer, race car driver, restaurant reviewer, and wine connoisseur.MC Richard Silverberg introduces the PCEC’s guest speaker, Dr. Iain Corness and describes his many talents. Dr. Iain is well known to the Pattaya Expat community; not only as a consultant with Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, but as writer, race car driver, restaurant reviewer, and wine connoisseur.

What can be done about aging? You can’t reverse it, he said. But you can adapt to it. For example, he remarked that old lions don’t race around catching animals for food; they leave that to the younger lions. Dr. Iain mentioned that he is in his 49th year of racing cars. Whereas he used to work hard using a spanner getting the cars ready for racing and squeezing every last bit of speed he could from the motor, the tires and car body. Now he just races; he leaves the preparatory work to others. “When I was young, racing cars was dangerous and sex was safe,” Dr Iain said. “Now…”

Being overweight accelerates the wear and tear on the body, so losing weight is a good strategy, Dr. Iain explained. Some older people like to jog. “Have you ever seen a jogger who enjoys jogging?” he asked. “It just increases the strain on your joints.” Exercise bikes aren’t any better. Also, the stuff you do at a gym doesn’t help much after age 60. Keeping mobile is a good idea. Taking long walks is okay, but it still wears out your joints. The best form of exercise is swimming because it is not weight-bearing.

Regular check-ups are also a good idea, Dr. Iain explained, because they help you spot a problem in its early stages when it can still be treated. For example, having an elevated blood pressure can be a sign of kidney problems. Other warning signs include high blood sugar levels or arteries in which blockages are forming. Some people don’t want to know, but he said that’s a pretty short-sighted approach.

Some people go to the other extreme. Now that genetic profiling is available, you can find out if you might be a candidate for a particular condition.  He mentioned that the actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure after she found out that she has a mutated gene known to raise a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Dr. Iain said that he thought this was an over-reaction. The presence of marker genes only shows a tendency, not a certainty.  “My father was so impressed by what he read about smoking and lung cancer that he gave up reading,” Dr Iain joked.

A member takes advantage of the free blood pressure checks provided by a nurse from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya at the PCEC meeting on Sunday, November 16; a regular feature when the speaker is from the hospital.A member takes advantage of the free blood pressure checks provided by a nurse from Bangkok Hospital Pattaya at the PCEC meeting on Sunday, November 16; a regular feature when the speaker is from the hospital.

When you grow older, the brain needs to be exercised just like the rest of your body, he stressed. The best way to exercise your brain is to be passionate about something – a hobby or anything at all. People watching and drinking beer in a bar on Soi 6 doesn’t cut it, he added.

After the presentation, Dr. Iain was interviewed for a television segment by Pattaya Mail TV. This interview is available on You Tube at: https://www.youtube .com/watch?v=CQHX5 qAlpH4&feature =youtu.be.

After the presentation, MC Richard Silverberg updated everyone on Club activities and upcoming events and then called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.

For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.

Dr. Iain Corness explains to PCEC members how to grow old disgracefully. He asked what can be done about aging? His answer was you can’t reverse it, but you can adapt to it.Dr. Iain Corness explains to PCEC members how to grow old disgracefully. He asked what can be done about aging? His answer was you can’t reverse it, but you can adapt to it.

MC Richard Silverberg gives Dr. Iain Corness a Certificate of Appreciation for his interesting and entertaining presentation to the PCEC.MC Richard Silverberg gives Dr. Iain Corness a Certificate of Appreciation for his interesting and entertaining presentation to the PCEC.

After his presentation to the PCEC, Paul Strachan with Pattaya Mail TV interviews Dr. Iain Corness about his topic of “Growing old disgracefully”.After his presentation to the PCEC, Paul Strachan with Pattaya Mail TV interviews Dr. Iain Corness about his topic of “Growing old disgracefully”.