Carol L. Monson, D.O., M.S.
Aging Optimally: Essential Tools for Healing Pain of Body, Mind, and Spirit
In a world that has been traditionally focused on anti-aging, managing ailments as they arise, and a mindset that we are dealt the cards we are given, we feel we have no control. In her recently released book, “Aging Optimally: Essential Tools for Healing Pain of Body, Mind and Spirit,” Carol L. Monson, D.O., M.S., is working to wake up readers and give them the knowledge and tools to begin living the lives they deserve – and in some cases, helping them to figure out what they want and need in the process.
Building upon her experience as a psychotherapist, family practice physician, federally-funded researcher, and former chairperson of Family & Community Medicine in the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Monson offers a solution. Her self-paced guide delves into the innerworkings of oneself to overcome challenges to “Aging Optimally”. And rather than telling the reader the approaches or outcomes they need to achieve, Dr. Monson provides guidance on how the mind, body, and spirit work together along with objective, research-based insight into options for healing.
“This book examines the human journey, how we live, age, and learn to make better choices for ourselves and those we love,” Dr. Monson notes in her book. “All of us are wounded by life, at different times, in different ways. We experience pain and suffering. ‘Aging Optimally’ is for those who want to become healthier, happier, wiser, and more knowledgeable in healing the pain of their body, mind, and spirit.”
Combining some initial concepts from over the past 30 years of Optimal Aging, Successful Aging, and Resilient Aging along with new strategies, Aging Optimally helps readers move through life being the best they can be. The book begins with providing factual, foundational information to better understand the core components of what makes up oneself and then takes space to explore what this means for each of us.
The book is set into two parts with chapters dedicated to conventional, alternative, complementary, and integrated medicine. Part One chapters are broken down into defining both individually and collectively the body, mind and spirt. There is clarification on the concept of Aging Optimally, pursuit of happiness and success, pursing love, confronting our fears, understanding, and communicating emotions. The book continues with the art of forgiveness, acknowledging our life scripts, evaluating, and taking control of our stress, venturing into relationships, experiencing romantic relationships, and awareness, acknowledgement and enjoyment of one’s sexuality. Each chapter includes self-paced exercises including questions for readers to reflect and document their thoughts, feelings, and goals. Her website www.agingoptimally.org also offers a workbook readers can download to maximize their experience. “After chapter four, we really go into the psychological basis of who we are and how we actually approach going forward in life,” said Dr. Monson. “Changing your perspective can change your life.”
In the second half (Part Two) of the book, Dr. Monson covers alternative, complementary, and integrated medicine covering various tools for managing health of mind, body, and spirit from a diverse breadth of options with informative, fact-driven information creating greater awareness. Chapters include approaches to the Art and Science of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, and Traditional Western Medicine (Allopathic) in the U.S. It continues with Other Traditional Forms of Medicine, Natural Products, Deep Breathing and Related Treatments and Modalities, Meditation, Massage Therapy, Special Diets, Homeopathic Products, Relaxation Techniques, Acupuncture, Fine Arts Healing Therapies, Prayer for Healing, Energy Medicine, Veritable Energy Therapies, Putative Energy Therapies, Energy Healers, and Putting it all Together.
So, how did she put it all together? “I saw a need and wanted to provide something that explains how we are brought into life, how we are influenced by others, such as our caretakers, and to guide people towards the concept of finding their own life scripts,” said Dr. Monson. And, in turn, her own life script has been an integral part of leading her to this point in her career and life.
As a professor at MSU, Dr. Monson served as director of the Family Medicine Residency Program, a member of the Consortium of Osteopathic Graduate Medical Education and Training (COGMET) as it became the State-Wide Campus System. While at the university, she also served as president of the Michigan Council of Graduate Medical Education. In this role, she reviewed training grants for the Health Related Services Administration (HRSA). As a primary investigator for several MSU Department of Family Medicine (FCM) grants, Dr. Monson coordinated research of faculty, residents, and medical students. Then, as chairperson of the FCM Department for multiple years, she oversaw the clinical practice of all faculty, while maintaining her own medical practice focused on person-centered primary care. In the most recent training grant, FCM established a geriatric fellowship, aided a partner hospital to do the same, and added curricular content of treating body, mind, and spirit to undergraduate, residency, and attending physician medical training. Building off her health policy fellowship training, Dr. Monson’s role as a health leader led her to presidencies of the Michigan Association of Osteopathic Family Physicians and the Michigan Osteopathic Association. Election as a trustee of the American Osteopathic Association later followed awards of Fellowship in the American College of Osteopathic Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians. In 2003, she received the prestigious MSUCOM Patenge Metal for her community service and The MOA Woman of Excellence Award in 2017.
Dr. Monson believes that some things are meant to be. As a young woman growing near Chicago, she utilized what she learned from her work on the family farm and combined it with her curiosity to understand how things work. She used her adaptive nature to break beyond limited opportunities offered to women at the time to pursue her dream of being a physician. Articulate and persuasive, she would eventually convince her parents, teachers, and counselors that she could be a physician and serve a greater purpose beyond the role of wife and mother that had been set for so many women at the time. She would later find herself in the right place at the right time – something she saw as no coincidence. In the time to come, she would utilize her rich encounters as a clinician, teacher, mentor, and friend to patients, students, and colleagues to continue her pursuit of lifelong learning while enriching the lives of others. Among those opportunities, she also helped support MSU AgeAlive since its founding to encourage wellness and lifelong learning for all ages. She notes that these experiences as well as the opportunity to travel the world observing other cultures and her education on the diversity and spirituality of other cultures are what have enriched her insights as a person.
Along her life path, Dr. Monson notes that the journey toward becoming an author of her own book has been filled with its own lessons – much like medicine itself, finding information you can trust and people who can support you. In the end, she found a company to consult with and help her to self-publish. And while she has taken a winding journey working in the clinic and on campus to support the university through various opportunities and challenges over the years, she was finally able to celebrate the publication of her first book in late February 2023 following her retirement. After hitting Amazon with paperback and digital copies, the book quickly was named #1 in three separate categories of Aging, Alternative Holistic Medicine, and Alternative Medicine Healing less than a month out from its initial release.
Is she happy and fulfilled herself? Dr. Monson notes a rich life filled with love, friendships, lifelong learning, and opportunities to pass along the things she has learned in good times and from facing opposition.
For those interested in learning more about Aging Optimally and to pick up a copy of the book, you can find the paperback and digital versions on Amazon at Amazon.com: Aging Optimally: Essential Tools for Healing Pain of Body, Mind, and Spirit: 9798887593098: Monson DO. MS, Dr. Carol L. L.: Books or through scheduled events (see below).
Miko Rose, D.O.
The Joy Initiative, Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry
Dr. Miko Rose is an Assistant Professor in the Michigan State University Department of Psychiatry, providing psychiatric services for Federally Qualified Underserved Health Centers throughout Michigan. Dr. Rose completed her psychiatry residency training at Michigan State University. She has served as council member for the American Psychiatric Association Committee for Geriatric Psychiatry and the Council on Communications. She is now serving as National Board Exam Appointed Faculty, and is Board Certified in Psychiatry by the American Osteopathic Board of Neurology and Psychiatry.
Dr. Rose is also the creator and Program Director of “The Joy Initiative,” a project she started at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she now teaches formal elective classes on the art of happiness and wellbeing. In 2013, she was awarded the SAMHSA American Psychiatric Association Minority Leadership Fellowship Grant, from which she built the foundation to develop emotional resilience, happiness, and mindfulness trainings tailored to the unique needs of medical providers.
Prior to entering medical school, she worked as a Program Officer, Fundraiser, and advocate for the underserved with a focus on overcoming domestic violence and trauma. She has over 20 years of experience and formal training in life coaching. Drawing upon her experiences with underserved communities, she now creates and facilitates happiness training programs for medical providers across the country.
Dr. Rose was the Keynote Speaker for the 2019 AgeAlive Research Forum on April 24, 2019.