Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging: by Dr. Roger Landry

We’ve noted an increasing number of CCRC/LifeCare communities with “Masterpiece Living” as a featured offering or value-add.  Some YouTube videos by the Masterpiece Living Foundation didn’t really get to the question, “Why should CCRC residents care if their community offers Masterpiece Living?” Technical talk of benchmarking studies doesn’t rely light consumers’ fires. Most of the talk was about features not benefits, but we were curious enough to read the book “Live Long, Die Short” that explains the origin of Masterpiece Living. Here’s our review:

Masterpiece Living History

Masterpiece Living is a relatively recent service, currently popular in LifeCare communities.  This program is an outgrowth of 10-year study by the MacArthur Foundation on successful aging as well as the findings of Successful Aging the 1998 book by Robert Kahn and John W. Rowe, MD.

The Foundation for Masterpiece Living was established in 1999 and tasked with the goal to research and address “health, change and aging.”  Dr. Roger Landry wrote a book around this research and the resulting Masterpiece Living services.  Dr. Landry’s book Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging was published in 2014.

"Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging" by. Roger Landry, MD

“Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging” by. Roger Landry, MD

“Live Long, Die Short” — We can choose to live while alive

The book’s title, “Live Long, Die Short”, references a key concept underlying Masterpiece Living.  We can largely choose to live while alive, postponing the worst burdens of approaching death until the end. The author says we can identify individual risk areas and steps you can take to reduce your risks in areas of physical, mental, spiritual, social life as you age. Making these changing in small incremental steps over time will extend your life spent “active” and reduce your life spent in a slow decline.  Medical experts refer to illness and disease as morbidity and death as mortality. So Live Long, Die Short advocates promoting a “compression of morbidity”.

 “Compression of morbidity essentially means that the time we are sick at the end or our life is short: rather than living the later phase of our life according to the predictions of those who associate aging with decline…we can indeed chose another route, a higher road more under our control even at the road’s end.”  — Live Long Die Short by Dr. Roger Landry

Masterpiece Living initially consisted of six steps and encouraged a kaizen or continuous quality improvement approach of small changes over time.  The six steps are:

  1. Educate older adults on the research findings and what indeed was possible
  2. Give them the opportunity to take the Lifestyle Inventory (and assessment of their current lifestyle)
  3. Provide feedback
  4. Discuss the feedback in a one-on-one or group session with a lifestyle coordinator
  5. Foster empowerment with a true coaching relationship
  6. Repeat the Lifestyle Inventory in a year.

It really is the continuous quality improvement (CQI) cycle applied to an individual’s health management.

Dan found a bit of personal humor in this. He remembers introducing CQI and total quality management (TQM) as then emerging trends in health care. He remembers being lectured by one pediatrician that, “Health care is not like making hamburgers.” She meant that it was more art than repeatable science. Subsequent events include innumerable efforts to make health outcomes more measurable and repeatable. Masterpiece Living is one of those efforts. Don’t you love it when you’re right?