Audiology, Dementia, Food and Science

Audiology, Dementia, Food and Science

Audiology, Dementia, Food and Science


Mike Peacock: Hey. What’s going on, everyone? Welcome back to another episode of Cosmic Soup. Today, we’re going to be talking about the scientific and psychological link between food, health, aging, and dementia. Our guest is a retired professor of audiology and neuroscience, formerly from the illustrious University of Washington, right here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She has offices here in Seattle as well as Vancouver, BC. We’re excited to say, has also become an advisory board member here at 3rdThird and Culinary Coach. Please welcome to the show, the amazing Dr. Kelly Tremblay. Thanks for joining us today.

Dr. Kelly Tremblay: Oh, thanks for having me. It’s fun.

Mike: Yeah. Of course, with me as well is our own boss of bosses, Cynthia Thurlow Cruver. Hey, Cyn. What’s going on?

Cynthia Thurlow Cruver: Well, I’m so happy to have Dr. Kelly here. I have to say, very honored that she’s a voluntary advisory board member.

Mike: Absolutely epic. Dr. Kelly, give us a little appetizer, a little amuse-bouche. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be involved in the senior living industry.

Dr. Kelly: Yeah. It’s a good place to start, right? You might think, “How does someone who is in neuroscience end up in the senior living industry speaking about food?”

Mike: Absolutely.

Dr. Kelly: Let’s put this together. How about we just start without going too far back. I grew up in a family where I had to be an advocate. My father had multiple sclerosis and was in a wheelchair. Just being able to navigate our way to a restaurant to have a birthday celebration took a lot of research to figure out what spaces would accommodate a wheelchair and all of that stuff.

I became an advocate, so it’s no surprise that I chose a profession, like many people, a helping profession. Instead of going into nursing and other types of traditional physician route, I became an audiologist. With that training, I worked to help improve the hearing of people who have everything from ear infections to have been in car accidents and lose their hearing overnight.

I saw patients for almost a decade and realized, as much as we know, there’s so much we don’t know, especially as it relates to age-related hearing loss because that’s something that’s gradual and happens over time. Despite the tools that we have like hearing aids and other things, there’s really no guaranteed way that we can improve somebody’s quality of life. Part of that reason is the brain. What is the brain doing with that information? We’re all different.

I gave up a good-paying job just to go back to school and did a Ph.D. in auditory neuroscience and have loved every minute, ran a research lab, and published many, many, many articles with many research grants. I loved that. But after 20 years, I realized, as much as we are doing in our ivory towers of research uncovering the problems, are we really connecting with the community it’s meant to serve? Are we putting this information into solutions?

I started getting invited to be on advisory boards representing consumer advocacy, realizing there was a disconnect, and so I decided I would retire and volunteer on these boards through like the Hearing Loss Association of America and the World Health Organization so I can help bridge the gap between presenting science in a way that can actually make a difference with boots on the ground and connect these two worlds so that we can make a difference. That’s why I’m here today.

Mike: That’s absolutely out of control epic. Also, just as a clarification, you volunteer with us as well. You want to come in and help us out because you support the goals that we’re trying to accomplish as well.

Dr. Kelly: Absolutely. Five years, to be honest, if you’d asked me if I’d be in this position, I’d say no because, as a scientist, we are skeptics. Sometimes, we are doing damage control in the way that things are marketed. The messaging that goes out there can be falsely represented to seniors or there’s just information overload, so it’s hard for older adults to be able to separate the snake oil from the rigorous, scientific supported products, resources, or information.

I just gained such a respect for Cynthia and your team because you are known in the industry as being a powerful company that is trying to fight agism and really has an honor code that I really respect. I can see the opportunity to help contribute to the messaging to make sure the quality of the message that reaches the consumers that I advocate for, there’s a better quality control. The fact that you guys are open to that is not common in the industry, and so I think this is a great partnership here that we can do.

Mike: Yeah, we’re really about opening up the dialog and exploring new avenues. I think that people haven’t gone down. I call them rabbit holes, but we like to go and take different perspectives from different areas of expertise and see how can we bring these all together and kind of brainstorm and put out new things to the Cosmic Soup, if we are going to talk about that. That is awesome.

What is that link between audiology and neuroscience?

Dr. Kelly: Well, when we think about communicating, just looking somebody in the eye and having a conversation, it’s not just about reading people’s body language. It’s about listening to what they have to say. Just as much as we think about food as filling our gut, we don’t just hear with our ears. All that information is being transmitted from the ear to the brain.

What you experience as sound in the physical element, we can quantify and measure as being all of us. But how you feel that sound or what you make out of that sound, how you use that information is very personal.

That’s something that we think of in the field of neuroscience. The brain is our CPU, so to speak. It controls everything that we do: what we feel, what we see, what we hear, what we taste. All that information is put together, and so our interaction and our connection to our environment is all based on neuroscience.

My specialty is looking at, how does that change as we age? How does that interfere with our ability to be productive at work, to socialize over a cup of coffee, or to be able to enjoy a meal, in this case?

As we age, we lose our olfactory senses. We lose our hearing. We lose our taste, gradually, as we age. It’s no surprise then that many people find themselves separating from socializing or becoming more socially isolated because they don’t necessarily get the same joy or pleasure that comes from the same things that they did when they were younger because they don’t get the full, enriched experience.

Mike: Yeah. Then when it does come to food and nutrition, how can the average person tell the difference between true science and, as you referred to it as, snake oil earlier.

Dr. Kelly: Oh, that’s a tough question. I should put a disclaimer. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m a great consumer of food.

Mike: Sure. As I.

Dr. Kelly: I’m not an expert when it comes to the contents of food or preparation, as my family will tell you.

Mike: Womp-womp.

Dr. Kelly: [Laughter] But I think my usual advice, whether it’s to students in the classroom, students around the world, my grandparents when they were alive, or my neighbor, there is so much noise out there in the messaging. But I think some of the places to start if you were to do Google search is, you can go from one click to cancer in almost any search engine attempt, so you have to filter out some of the rabbit holes, as you described.

Mike: Right.

Dr. Kelly: One of the ways that you can do that is, if you go to websites that have .gov or .org or .edu, I think then that links you to usually nonprofits, government agencies, NGOs, or educational facilities that make an effort to stick to content that has been either peer-reviewed or has been vetted, at least, by their professional organizations.

Mike: As opposed to the .coms that are really focused on commercial gain and things like that.

Dr. Kelly: Yeah. Of course, there are some dot-coms that have great missions and are doing a good job but, usually, the .edu, the .gov, and the .org have organizational structure where there’s some control over or some vetting of the material and how they represent themselves.

Two examples would be the National Institutes of Health,, or you could just look at, say, a trustworthy educational institution. Some people feel comfortable going to, say, the Stanford or Harvard websites, or a I think, if you want to start narrowing down your scope, those would be good places to go.

Mike: That’s great. There are plenty of resources out there on the interwebs that people can just look at in the privacy of their own home and really kind of help to delineate what’s real from what’s maybe buried in the mix.

Dr. Kelly: Correct.

Mike: Awesome. You know your website has a really cool quote right at the top. It says, “We are living in a time when aging and the experience of aging are undergoing a profound transformation.” What exactly does that mean?

Dr. Kelly: Yeah. You know it’s almost as if, in our generation right now, what we’re experiencing, almost everything is being disrupted, whether it’s ride-hailing or the way that we order our food. I’m a subscriber to having my food delivered at home. I’m a busy mother and so everything is undergoing disruption, and that’s true for the medical system.

We often talk about the age wave or the silver tsunami or these types of terms that really describe the fact that there’s a shift in our demographics. The number of people on this earth of people over 60 now exceeds the number of people on this earth who are under 20, for example. We are seeing the silver tsunami of a large bubble of people living. Well, we’re living longer and the proportion of us on this planet is bulging, so to speak.

You might have heard this as being kind of blue zones in the world where there are certain countries where the number of people over 65 is increasing so rapidly that our systems are not well equipped. You can think about this in the way of, if you have a number of people who are living longer and can live to, say, 90 or 100, and I ascribe to the idea that I am likely, statistically to have a 100-year life, what does that look like in terms of my career? It means that I have to work longer to provide for myself.

What does that look like physically? Well, I’m going to have a lot of comorbidities, a lot of ailments, and things that hurt, so I’m going to need to see the doctor more often. It disrupts a lot of different things in our economy.

One thing that we have seen is a disruption in the fact that we cannot ascribe to the traditional medical model. If my aches and pains are what we call, say, normal with aging, I don’t want to be clogging the emergency room or the physician’s office for somebody who necessarily is having a cardiac arrest.

We’re seeing an emergence of taking healthcare outside of the traditional hospital model and we’re seeing telehealth. We’re seeing all kinds of different ways we can deliver health-inspired products and services in now the private sector.

What you’re doing with Culinary Chef, for example, I think is a good example in that you’re trying to find alternative ways to deliver healthy food to a population that has a great need for improved nutrients as we age but it may not be through the traditional nutritionist channel that exists in a medical model. How can we deliver that in a different way?

We’re having to be creative, out of necessity, because of the masses of people that we cannot serve by just going to the doctor’s office. We have to think creatively, again, not just being the expert. You guys are pros and experts in the culinary business, but if you just do it of the mindset of what you think is best and maybe not what the consumers want, and so it’s important to have that dialog both ways.

Mike: Cynthia is a very big proponent of what is referred to now as the mind diet, correct?

Cynthia: Well, the mind-gut connection.

Mike: Yes, the mind-gut connection.

Cynthia: That is one of the reasons that we love Dr. Kelly—

Mike: Yeah.

Cynthia: –on our advisory board because we look at science and we think about how we can infuse that into the Culinary Coach service offering to make the diets and the esthetic experience of eating better for seniors. We love that Dr. Kelly will vet and review concepts and ideas that we’re interested in and let us know what is snake oil versus what’s not snake oil. The mind-gut connection is very interesting to Culinary Coach.

Mike: That’s something that you’re familiar with.

Dr. Kelly: Yeah. I wasn’t trained in this area but I found that I needed to become familiar with it on a personal level and that’s because, over the last five years, I have some autoimmune issues that ended up directing me, through endocrinologists and naturopathic medicine, that I realized I need to change my diet. I became a consumer and I started reading books, trying to understand what triggers inflammation and what is this connection.

As much as the mind-gut connection is not new to me, I think if we all think about our youth, we’ve always been told, “You are what you eat.” But it doesn’t necessarily mean anything until it’s something that you’re feeling. You have to have an investment in it, right?

Now, I started reading these books. The whole area of nutrition can be a slippery slope of fad diets and it’s hard to be a consumer in that space, as I found. That’s why it’s nice to at least compare and direct you guys to areas of vetted research that allows us and you to do some collective research, so to speak, in terms of reading.

The idea that, just like I mentioned, the ear to the brain is so important that you don’t think of your hearing as just your ears. We don’t think of just the gut as the gut processing whatever you ate ten minutes ago. Our brain is an ecosystem of itself.

Structurally, it’s comprised of neurons, pathways, and connections that we call neural networks, so the parts of the brain that work together. Anything we experience is usually tying together and communicating the frontal lobe with the temporal lobe and the limbic system and the brainstem.

How our body processes and digests food and extracts the nutrients is also a brain matter. It’s not a surprise that the structure, the biology, and the chemistry that runs our brain is based on what we take in. It’s no surprise then, if you’ve got inflammatory issues or autoimmune issues, how you can trigger those things based on what you eat or what you exempt from your diet.

As we age, when we talk about cognitive decline and things like that that happen, we become a little more concerned about what we’re putting in our body because we certainly want to try and stay as sharp and as independent, as engaged as we can. We don’t fear dying. We fear the quality of life that we’re going to have until we die.

Mike: Yeah, that’s an important distinction to make, for sure.

Cynthia: Indeed. The fear of the nursing home, that’s everybody’s biggest fear. Dr. Kelly, what I think is interesting too, because of your audiology background, is how does hearing – how might hearing affect digestion, pleasure of food, or dining pleasure? How does the brain connection and audiology patch into dining?

Dr. Kelly: Yeah, that’s another intersection of how I ended up becoming interested in food, that contribution, and the hospitality industry because, as audiologists, we are committed and our professional mission is to help improve the quality of life of people. One aspect of that is through communication. You need to hear to be able to communicate. Unless you’re part of another culture like using sign language or something, we need to connect over communication.

When we work with our patients, we do the very best we can to set them up for success by giving them hearing aids, cochlear implements, or assistive listening devices. When we send them out into the real world and one of the great pleasures we have in our life is to go out to restaurants and to dine.

I ended up, as a passion project, creating an app that allowed people to find coffee houses, key townhall type meeting places that we would call ear-friendly because it gave you the opportunity to be able to have a meaningful experience in a place that wasn’t so noisy. It’s no surprise. It’s all over the media that the average levels of noise in restaurants can exceed 90 decibels.

Mike: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly: That’s the sound of a tool like a drill going off about three feet from your head. The restaurant industry is always looking at ways to improve that and the consumers are always complaining about it. This app and my mission has been to try and, again, share resources so that we can try and give people’s ears a chance and help the hospitality industry as well and get these two worlds to work together.

One of the things is just promoting people’s quality of life and their social engagement as an essential ingredient to the quality of life when you look at the World Health Organization recommendations and guidelines. From that perspective, we promote social engagement. From a medical standpoint, we also know that noise, for example, noise pollution, is also a health concern because it raises your stress levels.

Mike: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Kelly: With your stress levels increases cortisol levels and it can interrupt the whole cascade of biological events that go into digesting your food, absorbing the nutrients in your natural ecosystem that exists. Noise is sometimes described in the eyes of the beholder. You might feel energized by noise, you might want to go to a club, and you might want to go to a restaurant where you can’t have a conversation and you’re pumped up by it. But we don’t all manage stress in the same ways or what is a stressor to you or me may be different.

Again, that mind-gut connection comes into play here not only in terms of the physical levels of sound in your environment but the smells, the tastes, the vision or visual appearance of food. Sometimes you want quiet. Sometimes you want loud. All of these things come into play and it’s all brain driven.

Mike: I’ve also heard – well, not that I’ve just heard, but it’s been said that there are also certain kinds of food that really tie in better to the mind-gut connection, I think, like walnuts, beans, and things like that. Can either of you elaborate on that at all?

Cynthia: Foods that are rich with omega-3, high fiber foods, foods that are not heavy in processed sugar or flours, they enhance your microbiome and your microbiome does affect your brain. If you think about how, I mean even how you feel, if you ate three Twinkies for breakfast, how would you feel? It would make you grumpy by 11 o’clock. [Laughter]

Mike: But on the immediate basis, I would be so happy.


Cynthia: To me, that’s a direct correlation of the mind-gut connection where, if your gut is being fed foods that are not helping your microbiome and that is systemic, going to the brain, we have so much control over how we feel based on what we eat. I think how that translates to senior living is, in a controlled environment and people are feeling perhaps vulnerable anyway, let’s help them to eat really healthy and have the healthiest chance for a healthy brain.

Mike: Awesome. Well, Dr. Kelly, just a few moments ago, you kind of touched on the topic of cognitive issues. As we all know in this industry, there is kind of an epidemic of cognitive diseases worldwide. As a collaborator on the World Health Organization’s aging reports, what do you think of us individually, as well as communities, what should we be focusing on when it comes to our eating habits?

Dr. Kelly: Part of the mission is to address some of the obstacles to having quality foods. Accessibility to food is often an issue for seniors.

Mike: Oh, good call.

Dr. Kelly: Affordability for food is often an issue for seniors. We think about the cost of health food versus fast food. The portion of a person’s income or retirement pension going to shelter and food, there’s not much left over, so you’re going to cut corners in getting accessible food.

It’s also about choosing nutritious food, and so being wise and being knowledgeable. It’s not just about calories, it’s about what’s in those calories, and being self-aware of what your needs may be because, certainly as we age, it’s no surprise. You talk about changes in muscle mass and bone density. Then you’ve got medications that may interfere with some of the digestion processes of certain food. Those are some of the challenges that an individual nutritionist will tell you and various governing bodies or advocacy groups will tell you are a priority for our senior folks.

Mike: What are some of your suggestions maybe that we can toss out there to the cosmos to help start to overcome some of those obstacles?

Dr. Kelly: What are those opportunities, let’s just say? In the senior living facilities, this is a great opportunity because you have a captive group of people. I think of myself and I think of myself when I’m maybe 70. I may know a lot, but I may not have the habits, the convenience, or the accessibility of living how I want to live, not only in terms of food but also exercise and everything like that.

In a captive environment – we don’t like to really use that word, “captive,” right?

Mike: [Laughter] They’re captives.

Dr. Kelly: In a community environment where food is brought in, I think here is an opportunity to make dining more socially acceptable, more socially engaging. I personally have biases because I know people avoid dining experiences because they can’t hear, they may be embarrassed, and it’s effortful to be extroverted in that environment. They don’t want to be embarrassed by misunderstanding somebody because dining halls are very loud.

I think, knowing what I know about the aging body where we start to lose our senses, so our olfactory, our sense of smell, our sense of taste, or we develop low vision, we may have cataracts, and we can’t hear, it’s not surprising that older may choose or not want to eat. If you can have, in this community, selections that are kind of predetermined that I know are healthy, they’re pleasurable to look at, I can enjoy them in a pleasurable environment and appeal to my senses where they taste good, knowing that some of my taste of sweet and salt are going to change, then that takes some of the effort out of me to bring that into my world. I’m more likely to engage and to socialize over meals.

Think about the European system and the role of food and our culture. I’ll give you an example. We were in sabbatical living in Paris for a year. The first week of my kids’ school in elementary school, the first week was a trip to the bakery because food is at the core of the French identity.

Mike: Right.

Dr. Kelly: It was important for them, for the students, to learn about the flour, where the flour comes from, different types of flour, how bread is created, how the government contributes to the price of bread, the flour, to contribute to make it affordable for all, the different styles or the history of baking bread, and how bread brings us together. It really is breaking bread together.

I think that’s true in our society but we, in our younger years, are often distracted by having to be at work and racing to deadlines and convenience. The pendulum swung to fast food. I kind of look forward to the day where maybe – I don’t know if I want to be in a community, you know, in a senior living facility. I can’t come to grips with that yet at this age, but there is some benefit to having all of those decisions made for me and presented in a restaurant type style that I didn’t have to put effort into doing.

Mike: Yeah.

Cynthia: Dr. Kelly, I think that’s a really great segue into a question that we like to ask all of our guests here on Cosmic Soup. If you had a magic wand that you could wave and you created a community that you would want to live in, what would it be? What would be your personal dream community? It could be anything. Let’s imagine that you’re 75 years old and you’ve decided, yeah, I’m ready to move to a place that has a network, a built-in network for you and services. What is it?

Dr. Kelly: Oh, you’ve hit my trigger spot. I think so many people my age—I’m in my 50s—are starting to reconcile with our own immortality. When you add all the background that I have, it’s almost like an implosion of too much information to think—


Dr. Kelly: “Wow, I’m no longer a scholar in this area. I’m living it,” and that really freaks me out.

Mike: Cognitive overload.

Dr. Kelly: I lose sleep. I lose sleep over this, and so I’m trying not to be in denial. Being the alpha person I am, I’m trying to control what I control. I’ve given this a lot of thought knowing that, 20 years from now, the world may look very different, so I’m going to try and create what that future looks like.

I can say what I don’t want to do. When I went to college, I had no desire to live in dorms and be with all the crazy parties or the cliques or whatever. I chose to live off-campus, so the idea of community living in a residential complex, in an apartment with condos or something like that, or a hospital type setting is not appealing to me. I like to work in those settings. I don’t want to be a patient, right?

Instead, I think I need, for me, to be my true self. I need to feed my body and my brain. I’m liking the trends and the movement towards integrating senior living into university and college type campuses. I think that’s the important ingredient here is enriched environments. It’s a term we use in science: enriched environments.

Maybe because I’ve spent most of my life on a campus as a student since kindergarten and I just retired this year, so all of my 50-something years have been spent on a campus, I really like the idea of senior living facilities that are independent, but community, where you have great restaurants within access or inside the building or down the hallway from me. I can have the healthcare because it’s integrated onsite or there might be university hospitals or clinics. I want to be surrounded by youth. I think it’s important to have that mindset that I have not an expiration date. I want to keep my brain active by continuing to go to schools, to go to classes—universities have been very forward-thinking in opening their classrooms to seniors—and listening to invited speakers who often come to campus.

I guess I want to die, for lack of a better vision, keeping my body and body. Also, I’m an avid, avid group exercise type person, so having the gym right there will help break my bad habits of being lazy sometimes. Going to a yoga class or Pilates class and going for a nice meal and then going to a movie on campus or listening to some historian come and talk about something, about their new book, that would be paradise for me.

Cynthia: That sounds like paradise to me.

Mike: That’s awesome. You know it’s funny that you mention that because I was just talking to another one of our colleagues, Mr. Cecil Rinker, and his vision was not too different than yours, especially as it relates to having different ages, different activity levels, and different things kind of happening in not just a place where you go to an apartment and you’re there. There are things to do and there are things that are jogging all of your different biological responses.

Dr. Kelly: Yeah.

Mike: His answer was pretty similar.

Dr. Kelly: It’s almost stigmatized if you’re put all in a box that’s kind of not integrated into society. I think it’s really interesting. With Cecil, you mentioned his vision. Isn’t it interesting, just from a human nature? Cecil, I don’t know his background, and then there’s me as a scientist.

From a human perspective, we’ve come to find the similarities in what our preferences are. But you know what? There’s science to suggest that that’s a really good approach as well. There are multiple good approaches, but there’s science to suggest that the intermingling of generations and creating these enriched environments works well. It’s nice when science reaffirms what we as humans, just human nature, kind of crave.

Cynthia: Now, we have one more question that we like to ask all of our visitors. If you were talking to, say, 100 CEOs of senior living organizations and you could tell them these three things, if you would do these three things, you would immediately make the lives of your residents better, what would those three things be?

Dr. Kelly: Oh, I’ve had a little bit of an opportunity to do this because I’m down to one parent after three parents. Two had dementia and one had multiple sclerosis. They ended up in senior living facilities maybe a little premature because, physically, they needed that structure and that support.

What really seems to be lacking, in my mind, is that social component. I think senior living facilities do a good job right now of trying to have field trips, bingo, you know, bring entertainment to them. But I think, at the deep, we as humans need to really connect at the soul level, and so having real relationships where you can talk about your kids, talking about how you might be feeling, feeling depressed or feeling scared. I don’t see a lot of that kind of support going on. You have to facilitate that and to give people an opportunity to create those safe spaces to be able to relate to each other as human-to-human.

I think that kind of goes in place with my background as an audiologist. You think about it as hearing but, really, it’s communicating. It’s sharing information through speaking. Communication is a two-way street: speaking and hearing. Creating programs that allow the opportunity to be able to hear and be heard is really lacking.

Three-quarters of the people who are in senior living facilities have hearing problems. Many, many of them do not have any onsite facilities to help promote hearing loss or how to facilitate and improve that, so I think enhancing communication.

I think you asked me for three things.

Cynthia: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Kelly: Those two, I think, are really important. Where is the logical place to happen? I guess because I’m here, the logical place would be in the dining area or over a cup of coffee. The third home Starbucks has created, that happens for a reason. I think people can overcome a lot of adversity, whether it’s pain, whether it’s a diagnosis that doesn’t look good, if they can find comfort amongst themselves or amongst others in coping with those, that negativity that can happen. Those are my suggestions.

Cynthia: Those are good.

Mike: Yeah, really cool.

Cynthia: Yeah.

Mike: I guess, are there resources, books, things that you would recommend to get more information on the things we’ve talked about today?

Dr. Kelly: Yeah, if I were in the senior living industry now, well, I guess the other thing I would suggest to these C-suite people, they’re not exempt from aging. Where do they want to be? Just like you asked me about creating my own utopia, what does that look like, I think as an executive in a leadership position, they have the opportunity to create that which they would want for themselves.

Mike: Of course, they should think in the same terms. Yeah.

Dr. Kelly: Some of the books that I’m reading now, again it’s interesting, as my science hat, I tend to geek out when I make selections, but I’m reading them now for more of an introspective person, as somebody who is aging, has just buried parents, and can’t help but feel a bit traumatized by that and by the realization that I’m going to get old and I don’t want to be dependent on anybody else. I’m used to taking care of people. I don’t like the shift in identity.

For me, and I would encourage executives to also look at books that give a framework of a lifespan as opposed to old age. I think those terms are stigmatized and they’re outdated. I think about things as a lifespan. Everything that we do today impacts what our tomorrow looks like and the next decade.

I’d also embrace accessibility as an inclusion—as much as it’s the new buzzword—industry. In some ways, our senior care living facilities tend to take in more of a medicinal, medical approach. We came about it in nursing homes. I think looking to the private sector and considering accessibility and reading about all the new stuff that’s coming about as looking at accessibility and inclusion from an aging perspective. As you grow older—by definition, bodies break down and things like that—we’ll need some additional help, and so creating an environment that’s accessible and inclusion.

Those are things that I’m reading for myself, my personal self and my professional self. Then I guess the other thing that sometimes gets lost that I would encourage C-suite people is to find ways to interject humor.

Mike: Seriously.

Dr. Kelly: Seriously.

Cynthia: Yeah.

Dr. Kelly: I think the entertainment industry is doing a great job. We’ve got Netflix.

Mike: We need to go hang out with them because I think we’re funny.


Mike: I’m just saying.

Cynthia: We are funny.

Mike: Come on.

Cynthia: We’re very funny.

Dr. Kelly: But look what’s happening, you know, with Netflix between Grace and Frankie. You’ve got some of the S&L women making fun of themselves and embracing aging or maybe using humor to cover up the pain.

I think, in senior leadership, if they can find some humor in it too, it’ll trickle down to the decisions that they make in creating this environment for people. People like us will gravitate to their facilities as opposed to avoiding them because I don’t want to be perceived as old. I don’t want anyone to control my environment. It would take the taboo away from it.

Mike: Well, it all comes down to something that I’m always telling people, which is, you have to find a way to change the perception.

Dr. Kelly: Right.

Mike: Right? If you’re just going to be a stick in the mud, who is going to be around you?

Dr. Kelly: Right.

Mike: There is something for formula and for systems. I’m a systematic person. I like things in their places. But, once in a while, if somebody throws you through a loop and pulls you out of your comfort zone, that’s when you realize, “Oh, this actually really works.”

Dr. Kelly: Right.

Mike: Yeah. Have a sense of humor. Try something new. Think outside the box. Bring some different people in – all that stuff. It’s not going to hurt you.

Dr. Kelly: No.

Cynthia: No.

Mike: What can it do but give you another perspective and, hopefully, kind of put you down the path to maybe just change the way that you think about the old-school stuff.

Dr. Kelly: Exactly and that change in mindset is not only good for social reasons, it’s socially good, but it will end up being good for business because people like you and I will put our dollars there.

Mike: Absolutely. I think that’s a really good way to look at it.

Dr. Kelly: If I can just end this on one little plug, and that is, you and I couldn’t necessarily have this conversation, this podcast, and there are many people out there in the senior living facilities who may not be able to appreciate this or listen to these podcasts because they can’t hear. I have to at least put my hat on as a board member, a trustee for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Again, if people need help and want to know how they can hear your podcast, hear their neighbors, and hear their grandchildren, the Hearing Loss Association of America is a nice clearinghouse. That is a great resource for executives. We’re all human. Everybody can make use of that.

Cynthia: Yeah.

Mike: We’ll put a link to that in our show notes when we post the episode.

Dr. Kelly: Great.

Mike: Awesome.

Dr. Kelly: One in three people over 60 have significant hearing loss. It interferes with their ability to work or to communicate with their loved ones.

Mike: Food for thought. No pun intended.


Mike: See what I did there? Dr. Kelly, it has been absolutely amazingly awesome having you on the show today. Your insights are spot on. The work and the connection that you’ve done between food and nutrition, audiology, neuroscience, dementia, all that stuff is just super inspiring. We really want to thank you for coming on and hanging out. Cyn, want to thank you for hanging out with us today as well and taking one for the team.

Cynthia: Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Kelly.

Dr. Kelly: Thank you.

Cynthia: Thank you, Mike, for putting together the Cosmic Soup.

Mike: Yeah, so if people want to get more information from you, get a hold of you, how do they reach out to you?

Dr. Kelly: They can reach me at My name is not easy. I realize that, so maybe we can put a link on the website.

Mike: I think we can do that. All right. Thanks again.

Cynthia: Thank you, Dr. Kelly.

Dr. Kelly: Thank you.

Mike: Wow! So much information in that interview. I know that was a lot to digest. Ha-ha! See what I did there? Make sure you check out all the links that we post in the show notes and check out Dr. Kelly’s website. Also, don’t forget; you can send us email at if you need some of those burning questions answered. Thank you again for listening and we’ll talk to you soon on Cosmic Soup.


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