Live Long and Master Aging podcast



Fit or frail at eighty-five?

Cathy Richards: Founder, Inspiring Vitality

BY PETER BOWES | JANUARY 18, 2021 | 1759 PT

It is often said that it is never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle – never too late to incorporate more exercise into our daily routine or focus on a healthier diet, to reap the rewards as we age. In reality, a message that it is never too early to focus on our wellbeing and longevity, is equally important.  Perhaps more so.  Cathy Richards is an exercise physiologist and founder of Inspiring Vitality, an online coaching program focussing on the needs of people over 40.  In this LLAMA podcast interview with Peter Bowes, Cathy discusses her mission to encourage more people to take steps – even tiny steps – in their daily lives, to incorporate strength building activity into their routines.  She also highlights the significance of deteriorating hearing for overall health and the likelihood that impaired hearing can lead to social isolation and loneliness.

Connect with Cathy Richards: Bio | Website | BOOM: 6 Steps to a Longer, Healthier Life | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube

Recorded: January 11, 2021 | Read a transcript.

This episode is brought to you by AgeUp, a new financial product that provides guaranteed supplemental income for people who worry about the financial impact of longevity. To find out more, visit

Topics covered in this interview include:

  • Adapting to a new way remote way of working out during and likely after Covid
  • Learning about the behavioral trail of very old populations and joining the longevity dots
  • The onset of frailty and the snowball effect of muscle decline
  • Implementing resistance training into exercise regimes to maintain muscle strength
  • Doing the bare minimum exercise to still realize significant result. 
  • Small, step and changes that add up and make a difference over time
  • Persuading younger generations that it is never too early to think about being fit at 85. 
  • Hearing loss and the impact on our quality life as we age  
  • The stigma associated with hearing loss and dangers 
  • The correlations been hearing loss and dementia. 
  • Social isolation, poor hearing and loneliness. 
  • Personal habits to live a healthy day
  • Sleep as a wellness trend

The Live Long and Master Aging podcast shares ideas but does not offer medical advice.  If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.

  • This episode is brought to you by AgeUp, a new product that helps fill in the financial gaps that are often created once you’ve mastered aging and achieved an exceptionally long life. Small monthly payments to AgeUp stack over time to create a secure income stream for your 90s and beyond. Contributions to AgeUp are shielded from market swings, and once payouts begin at age 91 or above, they’re guaranteed to last for life. AgeUp is backed by MassMutual and sold by Haven Life Insurance Agency. You can find out more at


Cathy Richards: [00:00:00] We should be thinking about our children and our parents and the intergenerational dynamics that we have because we do improve our health in community and in family relationships. And so that is one of our best opportunities to influence the future generations.

Peter Bowes: [00:00:20] Hello again and welcome to LLAMA. This is Peter Bowes and LLAMA is live long and Master aging. We explore the science and stories behind human longevity. This episode is brought to you by AgeUp, a new financial product that provides guaranteed supplemental income for people who worry about the financial impact of longevity. To find out more, visit AgeUp.Com. That’s AgeUp up dotcom. Now, a simple question. When you reach the great age of 75, 80, 85, do you think you’ll be fit or frail? Well, the sad reality is that from our early 20s, our muscle strength is deteriorating or potentially deteriorating depending on how we live our lives. And that loss of muscle mass is what leads to frailty in old age. But it’s not inevitable. My guest today is Cathy Richards, an exercise physiologist and founder of Inspiring Vitality, where she offers online fitness coaching, focusing on the needs of people over 40. Cathy is also a prolific writer and public speaker. Her most recent book is Boom: Six Steps to a Longer, Healthier Life. Cathy, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast.

Cathy Richards: [00:01:32] Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Peter Bowes: [00:01:34] Great to talk to you. You do online classes, is that something that’s developed because of covid or were you doing it before?

Cathy Richards: [00:01:40] You know, I was doing it a little bit before, so I was actually ready when covid hit and that part of my business is really exploded.

Peter Bowes: [00:01:48] How do you find that people have responded or adapted to that situation? I know I’ve gone through it myself in terms of going to a physical gym as opposed to being at my own home gym and doing some online work as well. It’s been, I think I know for a lot of people is quite a difficult transition.

Cathy Richards: [00:02:03] You know, I didn’t find it difficult at all because I was already working with some clients who weren’t geographically in my same area that way, so I was used to it. And then for the clients that I was used to seeing in person, they were really eager to do it because we’re all hungry for the human connection. We’re all hungry to keep as much normal as we possibly can. And so for us to be able to see each other over the computer screen, it it was as good as we could get. And we were all happy to do it. My clients and myself, I would have missed them and they would have missed me. And so it’s really been a blessing to be able to continue working together.

Peter Bowes: [00:02:37] Yeah, and I think it’s probably going to change, hopefully in the not too distant future, covid is going to go away and we’ll get back to some semblance of normality. But I don’t think we necessarily go back to where we were. I think it’s going to be a mixture, isn’t there, of of online working, of home, working out perhaps more than we did before.

Cathy Richards: [00:02:52] I agree and, you know, I have been a fan of exercising at home myself for my own needs for a long time just because that’s what worked best with my kids. And now now I have my dogs getting old and sick and I don’t want to leave him. And so it’s all these things that if you don’t have travel time and you can be home and still have the connection that you that you want and need, I mean, we don’t want our world to be 100 percent virtual once covid is over. But it’s nice to have more of the tools and more the comfort level that we have with it now so that we can continue with that more even after covid when we need to.

Peter Bowes: [00:03:27] So we’re going to talk about I mentioned the issue of frailty, which we’ve touched on before in the podcast, but it is crucially important to acknowledge the importance of muscle strength as we get older. Before we dig into that, let’s just talk a little bit about you and your career to date and what’s brought you to this point in your career.

Cathy Richards: [00:03:44] Well, that’s so glad that you ask, because it is my career path that brought me to focusing on the changes that happen to us as we age, because I started my career in corporate wellness at Marriott. I was the director of wellness at Marriott headquarters for a number of years when I was young, in my 20s and early 30s, and I was around all these busy corporate people and I was forced to figure out ways to connect with them and how they could fit in fitness and wellness in their busy lives, their stress lives. And I started developing motivational presentations because it was my job to bring in speakers. And I found that the speakers had knowledge, but they were boring. They were they were really boring. And I was finding that the the the audiences weren’t responding to the information. What they really needed was the motivation and they needed the practical tips and why it matters and how someone who doesn’t really care about fitness could fit something in. People would meet with me. I had this one one employee there, and I’ll never forget this meeting where she sat down with me and she said, look, I’m embarrassed to say this to you because your whole life revolves around wellness like that’s what you do for a living. But I only want to do the bare minimum. You know, what can you tell me that I can do? That’s the bare minimum. And that really I started a whole seminar series on the bare minimum and I said, don’t be embarrassed. That’s fantastic goal. And then to continue the story later in my career, I well, I, I left corporate world and was home with my kids for when they were young and focused on busy moms and doing boot camps for busy moms. But I really went back to full time and was the director of wellness for a retirement community where the average age was 85. So that’s when my eyes got open to what’s possible and the best case scenario for 85. And what is also quite common in the worst case scenario for the age of 85. And I started asking myself when I was looking at the huge variance like I’m daily for eight years, I was surrounded by fourteen hundred people with the average age of 85. So you notice some things, you know, you notice some variations.

Peter Bowes: [00:05:59] I was just going to say, you must have noticed a lot, because I was certainly doing this podcast and interviewing some very, very old people, you after a while, you notice some common connections, some common traits, whether they’re personality traits, whether the lifetime exercise traits. And you can almost begin to join the dots through the experience of these very old people.

Cathy Richards: [00:06:20] You can and you start seeing the commonalities for people who who are having the more successful and higher quality of life and those that aren’t. And it wasn’t that when you’re 85, suddenly you had a birthday and you’re frail. It’s that these habits, all your habits and all those decades leading up to the age of 85 that make the most difference. And so I since I continued working with younger audiences also and doing seminars for corporate wellness groups, I started having this message to the people in their 40s and 50s and 60s saying, what type of 85 year old do you want to be because you’re working on it right now.

Peter Bowes: [00:07:00] You also, I understand, testified at a White House commission on health issues. How did that happen and what exactly was your message?

Cathy Richards: [00:07:09] Well, that was a number of years ago while I was working at Marriott and I was part of the wellness program there, and this specific event was about complementary and alternative medicine, that there was a special task force that wanted to to report on the effectiveness of different strategies in overall health. And so I was there representing workplace wellness. And can workplace wellness make an impact on our overall health and well-being? And of course, my response was that, yes, we had done some some I call them research studies, but our data from doing our health risk appraisals at that time, pre and post with including follow up for people who are high risk, we had shown some significant improvements in health at that time. And so it really is was a testament to that. People are in the workplace spending a huge percentage of time. There is a captive audience and we really are. Ah, it behooves us not to ignore that opportunity to influence people’s opportunities so we can facilitate their their habits if they if they choose to.

Peter Bowes: [00:08:20] And it’s sad to say, and obviously we’ve gone through a very unusual 12 months or so, and so the situation is skewed anyway, but generally it’s still a little frightening to me how little attention is paid to workplace wellness and whether it’s in terms of just the amount of time that’s given to people to nurture that side of their lives or whether it’s physical facilities that can help people just to get in a little bit of exercise during their working day. I think we still have a long way to go, don’t we, in terms of corporate culture.

Cathy Richards: [00:08:51] Oh, I agree, and for you to mention the word corporate culture, that phrase it is, it does vary from place to place. And that’s what I have seen for sure, is that the leadership at any organization has so much opportunity to set a tone. And it’s not even just the organization as a whole. We find that an organization might say they have a great wellness culture, but then it does boil down to the specific department, the specific boss for for the workplace, a little little cubbyholes, little little pockets of people.

Peter Bowes: [00:09:24] Just reminds me of an episode we did a little while ago with my good friend Ross McCray from VideoAmp, which is a company here in the Los Angeles area, which has an extraordinarily good workplace culture as it applies to to health and fitness. So you’re listening to this and its piqued your interest, maybe go back in the index of episodes and listen to that one, because Ross has some really good ideas. Kathy, let’s talk about frailty and that issue that I highlighted at the beginning. First of all, describe what is frailty and how does it develop as we get older?

Cathy Richards: [00:09:56] Well, frailty typically has the most to do with our muscles and bones and how strong they are and how susceptible they are to injury over time. And are you able to go through the movements of daily life with comfort and with ease and with without pain and being able to continue to do the activities of daily living on your own again without pain? And so what we find is that as we age, one of the most significant factors is the loss of muscle mass, a loss of muscle strength, and that between the ages of 20 and 80, the average person loses 50 percent of their leg strength over that 60 year span, which is a ghastly percentage to think about. And most of us don’t realize that because it’s happening so slowly and gradually and as long as we have enough strength to go through regular daily life, we might not realize that when we need a little more, it’s not there until it gets to the point where we can’t get out of a chair without using our hands to push off, which is the hallmark example.

Peter Bowes: [00:11:04] And it is sometimes the issue, the the physical deterioration that is the and I don’t want to be too harsh about this or sound too harsh, but it can be the beginning of the end for a lot of people. A serious fall at the age of 75 or 80 for an otherwise healthy person

Cathy Richards: [00:11:22] Mm hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:11:22] Can suddenly bring on all of these other maybe unruly or seemingly unrelated health issues

Cathy Richards: [00:11:27] Mm hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:11:28] That accelerates their decline to a point where life really isn’t terribly good. It involves sitting in the chair watching television, lying on a couch, and they weren’t what they were just a few short years ago.

Cathy Richards: [00:11:41] Yes, oh, and it can be so sad and disheartening, and when you are correct in that, for so many people, it is a snowball effect. So if you’re going into your older years having leg strength, for example, as strong as possible, then number one, you’re going to reduce your chance of falling. And number two, if you do fall, then you are going to recover more easily and more quickly. You’re already going to going to have more leg strength so that during the period of time where you might be laid up, you’re you’re starting with a higher level of muscle mass. So then again, you’re just you can buffer a little bit of the the effects of that. So you’re right, because when you when you fall and then you’re aren’t able to move after that and then, you know, all these other things just start cascading around it so that the stronger you can keep your muscles, the better.

Peter Bowes: [00:12:31] We’ve done quite a few episodes recently about nutritional supplementation that can help in terms of mitochondrial health and the knock on effect to that is better muscle strength, but it isn’t the only way to help ourselves, is it? And this is where you come in in terms of focusing on that issue quite early in life. And I notice that you focus on people from the age of 40, but we mentioned this really from the age of 20,

Cathy Richards: [00:12:56] Mm

Peter Bowes: [00:12:57] Where

Cathy Richards: [00:12:57] Hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:12:57] Our muscle strength deteriorates. So so what can we do throughout a lifetime to improve our muscle strength and perhaps delay or even eliminate that situation where we become very frail?

Cathy Richards: [00:13:08] The most important thing is really to implement weight training and into your exercise routine, and that is been shown as as the really number one strategy to maintain your muscle strength. And there have been research studies where they take a cross-section of the muscles of a 70 year old like triathlete or an athlete at the in their 70s and compare them microscopically to the muscle cells of a 20 something who’s active and they’re identical. The muscles are able to respond and grow and stay strong over time with stimulus. So that’s what’s fantastic. And, you know, as an exercise physiologist, when I study these things, I’m just so and this is why I study this and that that we the biologically the muscle cells can respond to very advanced stages, never loses the ability to respond. So we can take someone who already is quite frail, someone who is in a skilled nursing setting and start them on a strength training routine and they will get stronger. I have seen people who had to use a walker who get their legs strong enough that they don’t need the walker anymore or someone who uses a cane and gets strong enough that they can walk unassisted. So it’s more about not being intimidated by strength training, not categorizing that form of exercise is something for other people or for people who are athletes. And they’re also not having the mindset that it’s all or none and that you have to go to a gym and use a bunch of weights and do something that you’re unfamiliar with, that there are strategies you can do at home and that are really not that complicated to get stronger.

Peter Bowes: [00:14:46] It’s interesting that you say and it is very clear that it is never too late, never too late to start.

Cathy Richards: [00:14:51] That’s part of the tagline of my business, never too early, never too late.

Peter Bowes: [00:14:55] And you mentioned earlier someone talking to you about the fact that honestly, they didn’t really like doing much exercise, wanted to do the bare minimum. So what is the bare minimum, would you say? Clearly, that’s going to be different according to our age in terms of what our maximum capacity is at any one time. But for someone, let’s say, midlife, around the age of 50, what is the minimum that you think they could do to actually see significant results?

Cathy Richards: [00:15:21] You know, I sometimes compare it to something that could take two minutes a day when I call the bare minimum, I often ask people, you know, how long does it take to brush your teeth? Or first I start off with with a joke and I say, you know, did you brush your teeth this morning before you left the house? And everybody laughs. Of course I did. It’s like, well, how long did it take you? One or two minutes. So. Well, did you ever tell yourself, I don’t have time? It’s like it’s absurd. I would never say I don’t have time. So what else is there that we could do that could take just two minutes? That is just part of our routine that we just do it because that’s just what we do. And you would never have to say I don’t have time. So the example that I give is often picking one or two muscle groups. For a lot of people who are around the age of 50, which you gave that example, they might experience back pain. So I would say do a plank and a lower back stretch, and that could be less than two minutes a day. Now, if your abdominal muscles are on the weak side, you might not be able to do what’s called a standard plank. But there are like eight different levels of planks, starting with just doing a plank, standing up and leaning into the wall so we can find the right intensity. It’s just a matter of the commitment of the habit and then finding the right level for you.

Peter Bowes: [00:16:33] And when people think about strength training, it often equates to lifting weights, which can in itself be a little scary to some people that will think I’m not a weight lifter, I don’t need to lift dumbbells. And of course, it doesn’t have to be that, does it?

Cathy Richards: [00:16:47] No, it doesn’t, and that’s why I wrote my book, Boom, and so I have two different tracks in there, one for the never too early crowd and one for the never too late crowd. And it’s its exercises you can do with dumbbells, exercise tubing and a big inflated ball at home. So it doesn’t have to be weights, it doesn’t have to be a gym, and it doesn’t have to take long. It can just be a fairly minimal program.

Peter Bowes: [00:17:10] And in terms of I mean, clearly, the inspiration to do this is obvious, but some people need just a bit of extra cajoling to to achieve these small steps every day. And I often talk about really, really small steps. And it could be just as simple as just walking for five or

Cathy Richards: [00:17:28] Yes.

Peter Bowes: [00:17:28] 10 minutes a day. And I try personally to just add a little bit of extra walking into a day. So you go to the market, you go to the supermarket to buy your groceries. And you are the one crucial thing that kind of irritates me that people don’t do is take the shopping cart back to the place where you are supposed to leave them. But if only you do that, it takes one, two minutes and you might be walking a few hundred steps to do that. But if you do it every time you go.

Cathy Richards: [00:17:53] Oh, absolutely, and that is one of the things that that can be most helpful is when you allow yourself to accept, hey, this little bit counts. This this this helps. And I think the mindset is such a huge piece. And we have this all or none mindset in our head that if I’m not going to change in size clothes and drive somewhere and do something for an hour, I might as well not bother. Well, all of those tips like park further away from the grocery store, take the stairs instead of the elevator. All of those things count. They matter. And if you tell yourself, oh, it’s five minutes, what good is that going to do? Well, the good it does is it gets the habit. And once the habit is there, the content can grow and evolve over time. So that’s why I love to remind people that habit is can never be too small to be effective. And then also, metabolically speaking, I also love to to slide in another interesting statistic of where all those those silly some people think they’re silly recommendations came from the park further away or things like that, is that when we’re sitting, most of us are burning about one calorie per minute at rest. The minute that we stand, we’re burning one point five calories per minute, 50 percent more. So when you think about and when you’re walking, it’s double the calories of when you’re sitting. So for one minute, OK, no big deal for ten minutes. Not that big of a deal and calorie difference. But if you apply that strategy to yourself all day long, how much am I sitting versus standing? How much am I walking versus sitting? Then it really adds up. All of those those minutes add up.

Peter Bowes: [00:19:32] And it is mentioned several times the fact that we need to think about this from an early age, probably from our

Cathy Richards: [00:19:38] Mm hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:19:38] 20s, and I think that is the big challenge, isn’t it, that oftentimes people in their 50s and 60s, because they’re feeling the effects of aging, will listen to this kind of advice, but not necessarily so for people who are much younger, who think and we will ask, as we’ve all been there, you think you’re indestructible at that age. But it is a challenge, I think, and especially for people in your line of work to try to get that message out to people who are ever younger.

Cathy Richards: [00:20:03] Yes, and, you know, so right now I teach at a community college and I and I specifically am doing that to fulfill what I think is part of my mission on the never to early end to to motivate those students who are in their 20s. And when I asked them what type of 85 year old do you want to be, I start off the semester with with that on day one. And I get some hilarious answers where they think they want to be at 85, but they truly start thinking about it. And then when when you also look at the family relationships, that’s one of the other things I emphasize in my book, Boom, is that we should be thinking about our children and our parents and the intergenerational dynamics that we have because we do improve our health in community and in family relationships. And so that is one of our best opportunities to influence the future generations.

Peter Bowes: [00:20:56] Cathy, we’ve got to pause for a moment for a quick word from our sponsor, we’ll come back in less than a minute. You’re listening to the Live Long and Master aging podcast. This episode is brought to you by AgeUp, a new product that helps fill in the financial gaps that are often created once you’ve mastered aging and achieved an exceptionally long life. Small monthly payments to AgeUp stack over time to create a secure income stream for your 90s and beyond. Contributions to AgeUp are shielded from market swings and once payouts begin at age 91 or above. They’re guaranteed to last for life. AgeUp is backed by MassMutual and sold by Haven Life Insurance Agency. You can find out more at That’s I’m talking to Kathy Richards, who’s an exercise physiologist. Now, one area of fitness that generally Kathy doesn’t get much attention is our hearing. Although if you think about it, what’s one of the most familiar signs that someone is getting old, that they are a little hard of hearing? The television set has to be a little louder. The telephone conversations aren’t quite as easy. And I know this is something that the problems with hearing as we age. This is something you’ve been looking into.

Cathy Richards: [00:22:09] Oh, it’s yeah, it’s so important and I started focusing on this based on two people who I was got close to while I was working in the senior living community. And when they started sharing more of their experience with me and I started learning more of the statistics with regard to hearing loss and the impact it has on quality of life and on our brain health, I started including more and more programs addressing it.

Peter Bowes: [00:22:37] It’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? What’s the first sign that you’ve got a problem is that you do have to turn up the television a little bit and clearly you’re a big part of this is the natural part of aging.

Cathy Richards: [00:22:47] Yes, they’re age related hearing loss happens to a lot, most of us, many of us by the age of 60, 60 percent of people have some hearing loss. And by the age of 80, 80 percent of people have some hearing loss. So it’s very common and there is a stigma to it, as you mentioned. So even though we associate hearing loss with aging, we also a lot of times see people wearing glasses more as we age. But yet we don’t make fun of that, like we make fun of hearing aids. And so most people a lot of people think, oh, I don’t want to get a hearing aids because it won’t make me look old, you know, and it’s really unfortunate because of the changes that are happening in our body. When we have hearing loss, we are really having less and less signals go to our brain. And so we’re losing brain function or cognitive function is declining as we are. Our hearing loss is accelerating. And so we really want to try to to address that as early as possible.

Peter Bowes: [00:23:48] Well, that’s what’s so fascinating about this, we’re not just talking about hearing loss, we’re talking about other physical changes in our body that comes as a result of or at least in relation to that loss of hearing. And you mentioned dementia clearly is is a huge issue as we grow old. How close is the correlation between hearing loss and those changes that you mention about changes in the brain?

Cathy Richards: [00:24:15] When you have even mild hearing loss, it doubles your risk of dementia and moderate hearing loss, puts your risk of dementia three times greater and significant hearing loss puts you at five times the risk of dementia so that the correlation is extraordinary and we really can’t afford to ignore it.

Peter Bowes: [00:24:35] And I suppose the question is then, what do we do about it? You mentioned hearing aids. There are lots of devices that people can whether they choose to or not, but there are devices that people can use. But for the broader effects that you’re talking about in terms of dementia and our brain, as far as physical exercise is concerned, what can we do?

Cathy Richards: [00:24:54] Well, actually, the first step is really to to get your hearing tested early and often, because the first signs are when you are not only turning up the TV, but when when you’re asking people to repeat themselves. And what happens is that in the beginning, when you ask someone to repeat themselves, they’re repeat it. And if you still don’t understand them the second time, what do you do? You smile and nod. Right. And you pretend you heard them the second time. And when that keeps happening repeatedly, most people start tuning out or staying home and they just start really becoming more socially isolated. Sometimes that rolls into depression. And in addition to the losing brain activity, then one when you talk about are increasing your risk of depression also, then it’s mental health issues from an emotional standpoint. So when you get your hearing tested, that is the number one thing you can do, because most people wait an average of seven years from when they start experiencing hearing difficulty before they actually seek out treatment. And if you get tested and you find that you have some hearing loss, then you would want to develop that relationship with your audiologist to either get hearing aids or some other type of device that’s going to supplement your hearing. And what tends to happen is that unlike glasses, eyeglasses, people plonk eyeglasses on their on their face and they work well. Hearing aids require ongoing adjustment. They require tweaking sometimes their discomfort. You know, there’s not they’re not comfortable in your ears, so they require adjustments and tweaking. And so you need to have an ongoing relationship with your audiologist to get to the point where not only do you have the hearing aids if you need them, but that you’re wearing them, you know, and that you’re you’re using them effectively and that that is what’s going to protect your brain. That’s going to allow you to stay involved in your social relationships and improve your quality of life.

Peter Bowes: [00:26:55] One area that you mentioned that is fascinating to me is the potential for social isolation and in terms of hearing loss, I know one thing that happens to a lot of people is that when you are in a social situation and there’s which is good, which is which is greater with other people, but then there’s a lot of noise in the background, and that’s when a lot of people first notice that they actually can’t hear a one to one conversation. As you said, they descend back into themselves and just play along as if they were part of that social situation, whereas they’re actually not.

Cathy Richards: [00:27:28] Mm hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:27:28] And the loneliness and the maybe depression that can follow out of that can potentially be quite serious.

Cathy Richards: [00:27:33] Absolutely. And what happens with amplifiers or hearing aids is that they amplify everything, not just what you’re trying to hear. So sometimes hearing aids aren’t enough by themselves. There are now more advanced hearing aids that has settings where you can for instance, if you’re in a setting where someone’s using a microphone system, you can, you know, point your hearing aids directly to that microphone system, tie into that system and hear that preferentially over background noise. But there are other strategies, like when you go to a restaurant, pick a corner table versus one that’s right in the in the middle of the noise. When you want to have a private conversation with someone, say, hey, let’s take this out of the hallway. There are different strategies that you want to employ to decrease background noise, because until you experience that, the hearing loss and, you know, notice that, you know what, gosh, I’m at a restaurant and there’s well, not uncovered, I guess. But when we used to be at restaurants, if the wait staff was clattering silverware along the side of the room or calling to someone across the room, that that would be just as disruptive to someone with hearing aids as it is to to not hear anything. So to noise levels can be a problem. Someone shouting at them or whispering at them or talking to them when they’re coming up from behind without looking at them. Now, some people say, I need to put my glasses on to hear you better. And that’s true because when you’re watching someone’s lips move, you’re going to be able to have more more ways to comprehend the overall message that they’re saying.

Peter Bowes: [00:29:05] Is this something you noticed you mentioned earlier that you worked with older populations, have you noticed the discrepancies between people, those that have problems with their hearing and those that are that are okay in terms of their social involvement and perhaps just their general happiness?

Cathy Richards: [00:29:21] Absolutely, and it’s and but it has to do with the effort, because a couple the people one person named Peter and then there is this other woman named Madeleine, who I got to know very well, and they had significant hearing loss, but they worked tooth and nail to address their hearing loss and to maintain these social relationships. So they were they had fulfilling social lives. So it really has to do with if you have no hearing loss at all or if you have the hearing loss and you’re addressing it, then you can have a high quality of life. So the the difference is, is whether or not you’re going to try to stay engaged and what the way Peter put it to me, he sent an email to me about a lot of his efforts and he said, you know what, the alternative is oblivion. And I mean, he just he really nailed it as far as when you when you think about the the what’s at stake here. And the other thing, though, to make sure that we’re we’re addressing is that not only is is hearing loss related to dementia or can increase our risk of dementia, sometimes hearing loss is mistaken as dementia. There have been been cases where where someone has been suspected to have dementia when they didn’t. And it was just that they couldn’t hear you, you know, and once once they actually hear you, then they can respond and their brain is functioning. So we really want to make sure that we’re not ignoring this important aspect of our health.

Peter Bowes: [00:30:45] I think this is probably a good example where we need to encourage people to embrace technology because there is some great hearing technology around it and you’ve touched on some of it. There is a resistance by some people to that kind of aid that they think, well, perhaps a little bit suspicious of

Cathy Richards: [00:31:02] Mm

Peter Bowes: [00:31:02] It, that

Cathy Richards: [00:31:02] Hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:31:02] It won’t actually help them. But if it does and you just beautifully explained, the alternative is oblivion. And that’s a really stark message. And

Cathy Richards: [00:31:12] Mm

Peter Bowes: [00:31:12] More

Cathy Richards: [00:31:12] Hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:31:12] Generally, I think we’re both very well aware of the problem of loneliness with with older people. And this goes right to that point, doesn’t it, that

Cathy Richards: [00:31:19] Mm hmm.

Peter Bowes: [00:31:19] If you’re isolated, you’re lonely and your general health deteriorates.

Cathy Richards: [00:31:23] Absolutely, yeah, ah, yeah, ah, we’re social creatures, we need that have that connection and and when we don’t have a way to communicate and we don’t have a way to receive messages, our brain cells die and ah, our heart starts. So it’s really closing down.

Peter Bowes: [00:31:40] Cathy, a wealth of information, and I know you have a website that’s full of everything that you do for people who are listening to this and would really like to delve a little deeper into your work and perhaps get involved and benefit from some of your advice, where should they go? What can they do?

Cathy Richards: [00:31:57] They can find me at and Cathy is with a C, which is not as common as people think, but CathyRichards.met And I’ve got a lot of different resources there, free downloads and some videos, different things people can take advantage of.

Peter Bowes: [00:32:13] And I’ll put the details into the show notes for this episode just before we close, I often ask people this in terms of all of the knowledge that you have in this fear as you live your own life, as you grow older as well, presumably with aspirations about your own old age on a daily basis. What are those key things that you have in your mind as you pursue a long healthspan, as I like to put it, expanding the number, extending the number of healthy years that we have?

Cathy Richards: [00:32:39] Well, as far as my own personal habits, you know, one of the things that I do that’s easy and when people are looking for easy tips is I start off the day drinking an entire 16 ounce bottle of water. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning and, you know, we know that hydration is good for us and sipping water all day long doesn’t really work for me. I just need to down it, you know, I know that I can check that off, that I’ve already started my day pre hydrated and I always exercise first thing in the morning. And that’s because I have I have a lot of kids. I have, you know, a lot of business obligations. And whenever I’ve told myself I’m going to do it later, it just doesn’t happen. So I like to get my workout in first thing. And then also I really prioritize my sleep. And I know that that when our sleep is disruptive and we don’t have enough sleep, then again, we are increasing inflammation of hormones in our body, worrying or decreasing our immune systems, able to respond. And we’re really setting ourselves up for a disadvantage and a lot of different ways. So I really try to protect my sleep. And when we look at the different wellness trends that come year by year, it’s my prediction that sleep is going to be one of our next big wellness trends. As far as how we how much we focus, we put on it.

Peter Bowes: [00:33:52] It’s fascinating, you should say that I often talk about the pyramid of things that we should do to nurture our health and fitness, and I usually put sleep at the top because if sleep goes wrong, you don’t get enough sleep. It’s going to affect your attitudes towards your diet. And I think you’re more inclined not to have a sensible diet in that particular day. And you perhaps more likely to skip your workout. Both of those things are crucially important to your exercise and what you eat. But if the sleep goes wrong, you don’t get enough hours that I think determines the rest of the day and it’s usually a negative spiral. So I think you’re absolutely right. I think sleep in the future. The more we understand about our sleep, I think the better.

Cathy Richards: [00:34:29] Stress hormones are much lower while we’re sleeping stress hormone, cortisol specifically, and we need that solid eight hours of low cortisol levels to to to allow our brain cells to repair themselves, to just to rejuvenate, to consolidate memories. We really need that time. So it’s so important and it’s so easily attacked. We are constantly staying up late or getting up early whenever we have something else to do. And it’s something we really want to to kind of question ourselves how quickly we are to take to steal our sleep hours for other things.

Peter Bowes: [00:35:04] Cathy, a great pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much indeed.

Cathy Richards: [00:35:07] Yes, it’s been a pleasure,  Me too. Thank you.

Peter Bowes: [00:35:10] And we mentioned your book, Boom, Six Steps to a Longer, Healthier Life, I will, as I say, put the details into the show notes for this episode and you’ll find them at the live Long and Master Aging website, that’s If you’re listening for the first time, you’ll find at our website an index of all of our episodes, more than 130. Now, if you enjoy what we do, you can rate and reviewers at Apple Podcasts. The LLAMA podcast is a Healthspan Media Production. You can follow us in social media @LLAMApodcast and direct message me @PeterBowes. It’s always good to hear from you until the next time.  Take care. And many thanks for listening.

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