I seldom hear anyone say, “I’m old.” They might, we might, say “I feel old today,” a temporary condition,” or “I’m getting older.” Aren’t we all? But seldom do we make that stark admission that we’ve tossed out a lot of calendars. Botox injections or an expensive toupee ain’t gonna fix what I’ve got. Muscles do sag, bones do get more fragile, and we probably are not gonna feel twenty ever again. But I marvel at the ones who forgot to get old.
I was once attracted to the book, STAYING YOUNG by its subtitle, The Owner’s Manual for extending Your Lifetime Warranty. Cleverly illustrated and written under the name of a couple of doctors, one of them, Dr. OZ. It contains more medical terminology than I will remember or pronounce correctly: telomeres, mitochondria, sirituin, and vagus nerves, among others. It does, however, emphasize that too many of us are getting old before we get old. We add more years to our life without adding more life to our years.
To summarize a few of their points:
-Aging is reversible—all we need is a nudge. Our best anti-aging tools are: controlling calories, building strength, getting quality sleep. Why did I already know that?
-Genetics are only a factor in aging, 25% by the authors’ assessment. The oversize belt on Uncle Henry and Grandpa will come to us more from adopting their spaghetti and beer habits than the genes we inherited from them.
-The dental flossing so important to our dentist and our remaining teeth, also controls infectious bacteria that are dangerous to our heart health.
-Our rate of aging accelerates at about age 40 , but we can slow or reverse that rate by altering certain behaviors. Think diet, multi-tasking that brings on stress and lack of sleep..
-All is not lost. If we perform a good habit for three years, (give up smoking and drinking, etc.), after three years the effect on our body is as though we have always done it that way.
-The dreaded Alzheimer’s and dementia are but a reminder that our brains need exercising as well as our bodies. Crossword puzzles may help, but more important is the new in our lives. It’s more important to begin to read, even write poetry as I began a few years ago, to join a Tai Chi or dance group, learn the piano, guitar, or violin (if we have a soundproof room in the house to practice. or a housemate willing to go a long, long distance away during practice sessions.)
-Encouragingly, heroics are not demanded. We can make progress by some increase in exercise, by some reduction in calorie intake, and reducing the stress that affects our sleep habits.
The book makes reference to something called real age, and offers the site www.realage com to compare our body’s age with our calendar age. Don’t be disappointed as I was with the results. Although the results naturally showed my real age to be a tad below my calendar age, it would be obvious to anyone that I am extremely fit and youthful, and the test may have badly overstated MY real age.
My neighbor snorted pretty loud when I said that.