All Press Releases for October 18, 2018

Fulfilling My Dream to Serve Humanity (Chapter 2)

Bruce L. Douglas

    RIVERWOODS, IL, October 18, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The receipt of Marquis Who's Who's Lifetime Achievement Award on June 8, 2018, accompanied by my biography, has laid the groundwork for this second autobiographical chapter. If I make it to my planned exit date of 2025, these two chapters may turn out to be the basis for the book about my life that I have been encouraged to write on many occasions.

At age 17, in my last year at Camp Rising Sun, I indulged myself, as was the custom, in writing a nighttime vigil, in a ceremonial tepee on the camp grounds. I was to free-associate my innermost thoughts onto a legal pad of paper for as long as I had anything to say and could stay awake. The American Indian ritual, devised by Apache Chief Roland Sundown in 1929, the year the Camp opened, required sealing the "vigil", and sending it to its authors on their 21st birthdays.

On July 14th, 1946, to my unanticipated surprise, my vigil came home to roost! With trembling hands, I opened the envelope and began to read. It started with the words, "I don't have the slightest idea what I'm going to say, but here goes: first a prediction: the War will have ended, Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini will be dead and Roosevelt and Churchill will go down in history as great leaders." Then it got personal. "I will have defied my dentist father's wishes for me to become an oral surgeon, and will have gone to Columbia to get an advanced degree in journalism." Stated briefly, my father won! In a world still at war, as a Navy V12 student, I joined a small group of my Princeton classmates who chose dental school , and did, indeed, go on to a career as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

My prediction was that I would live into the 21st century and, when I passed my seventy-fifth birthday, I would spend my last years "serving humanity". And that's what I believe I've done during the time gifted to me since the year 2000.

In 2015 I learned a new word that described my aging ascent when I became a nonagenarian. I'm very lucky, so far, that the health challenges I do have are not ones that are likely to affect my longevity.

Shortly after becoming eligible for Medicare, the Illinois Chapter of AARP invited me to join its legislative committee because of my experiences as an elected member of the Illinois House of Representatives. And AARP also provided me with training in retirement planning, a subject which the largest senior citizen organization in the world was offering to some of the largest corporations in the country.

While serving in these volunteer jobs with AARP, my wife, Jan, in 1994, offered me a position as medical consultant to a capital-risk consulting firm which she had just started. My "on-the-job" training in the world of business led to my "promotion" to medical director of my wife's company and, in effect, was the start of my developing expertise in the older worker and the growing worldwide problems presumably caused by the aging workforce.

Having retained my adjunct professorship at the UIC School of Public Health (UICSPH), I was provided a cubicle by Prof. Susan Hughes and began my research on the worldwide impact of the older worker. This was an interest that evolved from my medical advisory and consulting positions with Marsh and McLennan, the world's largest insurance broker, and Sedgwick Claims Management Services, where I worked for David North, who has been my primary benefactor in my business and academic-related careers.

In cooperation with Dr. Sara Rix, AARP's expert on the older worker, I started my research in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at UICSPH, and found myself being called upon to give many talks and make presentations on the subject of the older worker and preventive medicine in the workplace. A comprehensive chapter on that subject in my wife's book on workers' compensation and an appointment to the editorial board of the Journal of Workers' Compensation turned out to be an opportunity to write regular opinion pieces on issues relating to the aging workforce; and, in 2002, I was appointed the first Senior Scholar at the Washington Business Group on Health.

My wife's career in the world of human capital management and her books on absence management, workers' compensation and integrated disability management, all areas with direct application to the aging work force, and the fact that I participated in editing all of her books, set me off on an advocacy pathway in behalf of a rapidly aging world population.

To this day, I have not wavered in my support of older citizens and the processes- biologic, social, and psychological- that impact the quality of their lives, as they enter their later years. In 2013, I was invited by the Dean of the UICSPH to join Professors Susan Hughes and Robin Mermelstein in the Center for Research on Health and Aging; and willingly accepted mentorship by Professor Jay Olshansky, world-renowned expert on longevity, which laid the groundwork for my current work on senescence, a process that affects all human cellular life and is, in essence, the ultimate cause of the end of that life. The SPH has enabled me to advance my work by supporting the printing of a Compendium of my articles on the subject of the older worker.

The Effect of Senescence on the Quality of Life and the Responsibility of Healthcare Providers to Each Other as Well as Their Patients

Senescence refers to the biological and physiological changes that occur in all human beings as they age. Aging is simply a measure of the number of years since birth.

Everyone ages at the same chronological rate; senescence, on the other hand, is highly variable and proceeds at different rates in different individuals in the same species. The senescent differences basically relate to genetic makeup and a number of lifestyle factors that influence the rate at which our bodies and their many organs change with advancing age. To a significant degree, aside from chance, successful aging is dependent on how diligently an individual self manages his own well-being throughout life.

Healthcare providers, while dealing with existing illness, will have to come to terms with the need for placing a greater emphasis on prevention and modification of those illnesses, as we learn how to neutralize and delay the inevitable deterioration of the vital organs that maintain the quality of life.

The responsibility for doing so is a multi-professional one. The individual, who wants to live a long and successful life depends on the services of dozens of highly trained providers of service, ALL of whom must learn to understand the need for inter-professional cooperation. In that context, there is no hierarchy of professional levels. The provider-of-the-moment is the most important to the individual in need; but that provider must accept his or her role as an inter-disciplinary one. He or she must understand that, along with developing disease processes, every human being is constantly affected by senescent change, and that that process of slow deterioration of the human body responds to responsible care, whether it is provided by any one of a group of doctors, therapists, or caregivers. In addition to learning about genes, chromosomes, and telomeres, all of those providers must learn how to communicate with other providers and to learn to tear down the silos that separate them from one another.

Bruce L. Douglas, DDS,MA,MPH
Professor of Health and Aging
University of Illinois at Chicago
School of Public Health

# # #

Contact Information

Fred Marks
Marquis Who's Who Ventures LLC
Berkeley Heights, NJ
Voice: 844-394-6946
E-Mail: Email Us Here
Website: Visit Our Website
Follow Us: