Gray hair is sign of wisdom in the Middle East, geriatrician Mehrdad Ayati, MD, writes in the new book "Paths to Healthy Aging," which he penned with his wife, Azerou (Hope) Azarani, PhD. Born into a family of doctors in Iran, Ayati moved to the United States in his 30s and soon discovered his passion for caring for older folks. The book aims to provide a easily digestible guide to aging, with chapters on mental health, exercise and nutrition.
Ayati recently sat down with Paul Costello, chief communication officer for Stanford's medical school, for a conversation captured in a 1:2:1 podcast. During the talk Ayati explained why he was motivate to write the book:
One of the major complaints is there's a lack of valid and easy-to-understand information about aging. They've been complaining to me that they've being bombarded by a lot of contradictory claims and a lot of instructions that are very difficult to follow.
Costello also asked Ayati about his transition from Iran to America — older people are treated very differently in those two cultures. Ayati responded:
In my culture, elderly people have a special status in their family, their community and their society. They are considered very sage. They are highly respected by other people... Since they are young, they have a dream to have this status someday in their life.
Ayati likened the Middle Eastern respect for the elderly to America's love of babies. Both are vulnerable humans, and both need our love and support, Ayati said.
For more information on the book, which also includes a series of questionnaires for readers, visit Ayati's blog.
Previously: Tick tock goes the clock — is aging the biggest illness of all?, Neighborhood's "walkability" helps older adults maintain physical and cognitive health and Walking and aging: A historical perspective
Photo by Garry Knight