The Longevity Project 2020: Advancements in medicine |

The Longevity Project 2020: Advancements in medicine

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The Longevity Project 2020: Advancements in medicine

Residents of high-elevation mountain communities are living longer, healthier lives in part because high-quality care is closer to home than ever before.

Photo by John LaConte / Vail Daily

New procedures for old bones: Orthopedics helps aging population keep moving

Vail resident Harvey Simpson skied roughly 30 days last season. It was a fraction of the 100-day winters he enjoyed a few years ago, but it was, of course, an abbreviated season.

Also, Simpson is now 94 years old.

“I’m looking forward to next season,” he said. “Getting back up to 75 days again.”

For Simpson, skiing is the activity that keeps him young. And skiing is often times considered a young person’s sport, which no doubt helps Simpson feel young while he’s doing it. But the fact that he has some kind of activity keeping him going is the more important part, said Gini Patterson with Timberline Adult Day Services in Frisco.

“Whether you have a history of a physical impairment — we’ll call that a total joint replacement — or a mental issue like memory loss, it’s so important to stay active, mentally and physically,” she said.

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Photo by Jason Connolly / Jason Connolly Photography

The aging brain: Exploring the connection between neurology and elevation

It isn’t noticeable at first. It starts with changes for which the brain can compensate, meaning no real impact on day-to-day functions or cognition.

But as time passes, the brain can no longer compensate for the damage it’s experiencing. Subtle problems with memory and thinking begin to pop up. Subtle turns to noticeable. Noticeable turns to difficulty carrying out everyday activities. Eventually, around-the-clock care is required.

This is the broad view progression from preclinical to severe Alzheimer’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that becomes worse with time and age, and is the most common cause of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

While it’s been shown that living in higher elevation communities can lead to a more active, healthier lifestyle and even prolonged life, it’s less clear how living at high elevation correlates with degenerative brain diseases.

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Photo from Valley View Hospital

Access to care: Medical facilities on the rise across the High Country

Specialized labs, a new heliport and cancer treatment options are just a few of the medical care improvements across the High Country and on the Western Slope in the past two decades.

By investing in staff, facilities and transportation, hospitals have reduced their patients’ need to travel for specialized care.

Many of Colorado’s recent leaps and strides toward better, more accessible health care were facilitated in part by the state’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2013, said Cara Welch, the Colorado Hospital Association director of communications.

Rural hospitals provide the foundation of health care throughout the state, but in the High Country and on the Western Slope, those hospitals can play an even larger role when required special services could mean an hourslong trip to Denver.

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Photo by John F. Russell / Steamboat Pilot & Today

New frontiers in treatment: Patients seek holistic approach to wellness

You might shake your head at Kris Rowse’s sound vibration room, the one full of 17 gongs that play a musical note attuned to the vibration of a specific planet or asteroid, or you might even think she’s nuts. That’s OK. More than a decade ago, before Rowse took a yoga class, she’d probably agree with you.

She was an event planner then, but she was turning 40 and feeling what many say they feel when they reach their middle age: A dissatisfaction that was hard to pinpoint.

“I could feel that there was a shift, but I didn’t know what that meant,” Rowse said from her gong studio, Trust Love Connection, in her Steamboat Springs home. “I wanted a change, but I felt disempowered in how to achieve that.”

That change began with yoga, a well-known gateway to spirituality as well as fitness. Rowse met a life coach through the class, began using one, and the coach told her about sound vibrations. The sounds soothed Rowse, and she now works as a sound vibration practitioner as well as a life coach and astrological reader.

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