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Rock & Roll Recovery

Undo the damage from your youth in 8 key areas

  • Zohar Lazar

    Could all those rock ’n’ roll concerts make me deaf?

    En español | Protect what you have left. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says the simplest way to do this is to wear ear protection when operating loud machinery such as a lawn mower, to sit away from movie and concert speakers, and to decrease the volume on personal headphones.  If your hearing is already impaired, it might be time to get tested and fitted for hearing aids. Studies have shown that the longer you wait, the harder your hearing loss will be to treat.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Could all those late nights turn into a nightmare?

    Make sleep a top-of-the-list priority, says James Maas, an internationally renowned sleep educator. There may already be some damage done, but you can still work on keeping what you have. And since a lack of sleep has also been linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even allergy and skin problems, shut-eye deserves as much attention as nutrition and exercise.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Did smoking do me irreparable harm, even if I quit years ago?

    Quit. Harvey Eisenberg, a diagnostic radiologist at Body Scan International in Tustin, Calif., says the lungs of even heavy smokers who stop smoking show remarkable regeneration, with reduced inflammation and increased function within months. As long as you didn’t develop COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), there’s a good chance your lungs have healed. But don’t take up vaping. Preliminary studies suggest that it may be no better for your lungs than smoking cigarettes. Regarding pot, living a healthy lifestyle now may help offset the impact marijuana had on your body in the past.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Is all the weight I gained here to stay?

    First, commit to an exercise program and start building metabolism-boosting muscle. At the same time, break bad nutrition habits by following some of the rules outlined in the study-based book AARP New American Diet: Lose Weight, Live Longer. • Avoid “diet” food. It’s usually highly processed and full of sugar. • Snack often. Distributing your total daily calorie allotment over five or six small meals encourages weight loss. • Drink more water. Choose it instead of soda, juice and other beverages. For more tips, go to aarp.org/aarpnewamericandiet.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Does my liver still quiver from all the drinking I did?

    Lots of studies show that moderate drinking is healthful, so there’s no need to become a teetotaler. The challenge, because alcohol is an addictive substance, is making sure moderate doesn’t become excessive. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “excessive” for women means four-plus drinks per occasion and/or eight-plus per week; for men, five-plus drinks per occasion and/or 15-plus per week.

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    Did using drugs do permanent damage to my brain or body?

    If you’ve used intravenous drugs even once — and particularly if you shared a needle — get tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C. People with a history of intravenous drug use should also undergo a cardiac evaluation and have their liver and kidney function assessed.  Past behavior can predict future behavior, says Michael Clark, M.D., director of the Pain Treatment Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. If you were one of those who relied on illicit drugs for any extended period of time, you might be more likely to overuse meds such as prescription painkillers. "Just be aware that you might be someone who turns to pills or alcohol to self-medicate," he says.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Has a lengthy love affair with my couch harmed my heart?

    "Your body is very resilient," says Robert Drapkin, an oncologist who got in shape and became a  bodybuilder at 72, after living a sedentary lifestyle. If you commit to a simple exercise program, "you can expect a complete recovery. Muscle, for example, can be built at any age, as can aerobic capacity. Commit to working out regularly and you’ll feel better quickly and see measurable changes in three months." See Drapkin’s total-body exercise plan in the December-January issue ofAARP The Magazine.

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  • Zohar Lazar

    Did all that head banging damage my head?

    Au contraire. An article published in Self and Identity, the journal of the International Society for Self and Identity, suggests that the metalhead lifestyle may have had long-term psychological benefits.  After examining the groupies, musicians and fans of heavy metal music in the 1980s — a decade replete with sex, drugs and violent lyrics, and with dire warnings of their negative effects — researchers found that many metalheads are better adjusted in middle age than are their counterparts who listened to other types of music. In general, they’re well educated, middle class, gainfully employed and less likely to have sought psychological counseling. They also report happier childhoods.

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