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Family is Everything

by Dr. Denise Chranowski

For the past 9 weeks in my office we’ve been sharing with our patients the nine principles of longevity discussed in The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. The book reports on findings of studying centenarians around the globe. The last principle we looked at was "Put Family First." The principle really touches my heart as I recently had the most amazing weekend. Our 12 year old son had the leading role of "Albert" in Bye Bye Birdie. To see your own child ‘strutting his stuff’ on stage is certainly a mother’s dream come true. But then to have my entire family (and many friends, including Wellness Center staff) come to see him too, was just so wonderful. At one point my dad leaned over and squeezed my hand. Words weren’t necessary. My brothers and I grew up very close. We were taught the importance of family. We’ve always been close. We married spouses that shared in our values, the same family values the centenarians in the book have.

One thing that stands out is that centenarians in Italy, Costa Rica and Japan often live with their children. In America, we can find this to be an extreme burden. However remember the difference… these centenarians are healthy. They don’t have 22 doctor appointments each week. They don’t take 8 different medications. They are active, vibrant and interactive. And remember why… they made regular deposits in what I like to call their health savings account all ten decades of their lives. Maybe if our parents and grandparents were like this too, we wouldn’t hesitate to bring them into our homes. I encourage you to purchase this book so that you too can study all nine principles to longevity and ideally make more regular deposits in your health savings account too!

So here are some of the book’s suggestions for putting family first. I’ve included a few of my own!

1. The family meal cannot be overemphasized. A patient recently told me that every Sunday, and every birthday (she and her husband have 6 children), the family meal is eaten in the dining room. We’ve recently added this ritual and I love it. Why keep the China for "special." Aren’t our families special enough?

2. Get a smaller house. Well that’s what the book recommends. In America let’s face it, many of us live in homes that are much bigger than we need. If you can go all day and not run into your children, perhaps your home is too big. Compare your home to your parent’s home. For many of us it is more than twice the size. So keep the family close. Kids can be doing their homework in the kitchen while dinner is being prepared. Actually use your ‘family room’ as a ‘family room.’

3. Limit your children’s activities. Our rule is one activity per child. And we stick to this. One sport & one team per child is the rule. I simply refuse to have 7 nights of activities each week.

4. Start rituals. Dinner with Grandmom every Tuesday night, or sleepovers with Aunt Sue once per month, or family nite out every Friday. Children especially love rituals and look forward to them.

5. My mom often reminds me that "Charity begins at home." So think outside of the box in terms of what another family member might need. It could be something as simple as a phone call.

Perhaps Michael J. Fox put it best when he said, "family isn’t an important thing, it’s everything."


215/752-1420 WWW.WSCENTERS.COM

Dr. Denise Chranowski, along with her twin brother, Dr. Dane Donohue, and Dr. Jerry Agasar, are the owners of Wellness Solution Centers. Located in New-town, this Wellness Center has all the tools and resources to dramatically improve your health, including chiropractic, massage therapy, acupuncture, personal training, and nutritional counseling. www.wscenters.com

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