I suppose we will all have that pivotal moment in our lives when all of a sudden we are called “old”. Not just receiving the AARP membership mailers; some people start getting those in their 20s. We all would like to ageless living. It happened to me in April, shortly after my 62nd birthday. I was driving in my South Denver neighborhood not far from my home when one of Denver’s Finest pulled me over. My serious concern for global warming has prompted me to develop an “energy saving”, “green”, abbreviated stop – apparently not yet approved by those in traffic enforcement. I accepted my ticket gracefully and thanked the Lord that at least my wife was not with me! Without thinking, I even thanked the patrolman, although I immediately recanted the thought saying, “I’m not thanking you for this!”; he smiled and said “I understand”.
I didn’t realize until later that I had been maltreated. I read the ticket and for the first time in my life my hair color was listed as “grey”. WHAT?!! I’m used to being listed as brown, sparse or missing. Police have a tough enough job and need all the friends and support they can get; it’s not necessary to alienate folks by calling them old.
We all do get old, at least if we’re lucky. Physiologically, we peak around our teenage years and our bodies start declining thereafter. Our hearts pump stronger, our lungs breath bigger, our livers metabolize better, our kidneys process urine, our immune system protects us, and our hair cells color our hair – all with maximum activity before age 20. If you’re old enough to vote, you’re aging.
While we are all physiologically declining after our teenage years, what differs between individuals is the rate at which we decline. We can do some things to slow our rate of decline and maintain our good health for as long as possible.
Good nutrition and vitamins can help maintain weight and health.
Many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, are associated with poor nutrition and eating habits. Most people benefit from a daily multiple vitamin to cover minor nutritional indiscretions.
Exercise is important.
I took up biking about six years ago when my job was very stressful and my blood pressure was high. I started with just a few miles and found that it felt really good to get out and ride. I enjoy biking in the early morning and have increased my time well past the recommended 30 minutes 5 times a week. My blood pressure is great and there is a certain self-esteem that develops from being able to move under your own power. That same self-esteem creeps in as we learn new things and remain functional.
I was comforted by hearing recently that 60 is the new 40.
There are more people than ever living longer healthier lives, and we want to be among them. When I see patients in their 50s, 60s and 70s, some look younger and some older than expected. We need to take care of ourselves. We do better when we keep living and stay in good shape.
We all get old, at least if we’re lucky.
Each body system decreases in function – heart, lungs, muscles, joints, liver, kidney, eyes, brain, immunity – and at some point in time each of us will adjust to the ability of our body – our heart, or lungs, or muscles, or our hair pigment cells – to keep up with our expectations. Keeping active at an appropriate pace after consulting with your doctor first , eating well and taking care of ourselves are about the best we can do. Even if people treat you as if you are old, you can focus on ageless living.