Growing old gracefully
Today the average duration of human life in the UK is
just about 75 years for women and a little less for men. Conservative
experts believe that man is really built to last about 100 years; and that
medical advances and a healthier lifestyle could bring this about within a
generation or two.
What good is it to add years to life if we do not also add life to years?
In fact, unless people learn to enjoy life and to grow old gracefully, the
extra years may be an additional burden.
At your peak
From 18 to 30 years is roughly the period of highest physical and mental
vigour. The experiences we accumulate from the day we are born help us to
conserve and to use our physical and mental abilities more wisely, so that
for some time after 30 years we are able to perform increasingly well in
spite of slowly slipping vigour.
After age 50 the increasing accumulation of experience is no longer able
to offset the now more rapidly energy and therefore ageing begins to
assert itself noticeably and in many ways.
A number of things may come about gradually such as people who have not
used eyeglasses before may at some time in their forties need them for
reading, and in the fifties they usually need bi or vari focals.
Putting on weight
Also in the forties, people are likely to put on weight because there is a
general slowdown in the oxidation rate of the ageing body tissue. Also we
tend to do less strenuous work with no reduction in the amount of food
And in the fifties there is likely to be some loss of
hearing. Usually the high-pitched tones go first, so words with the sounds
of F, S, and TH are confused. A hearing aid may be needed in some cases.
Loss of flexibility
Ageing is generally accompanied by a loss in physical and mental
flexibility. This is noticed in a tendency to become stiff in the joints;
in slower comeback after a strenuous trip, excessive "night
life," or hard work; in slower healing of wounds, sore muscles, and
sprains; in slower recovery of pep after an illness; and in greater
difficulty to adjust to new people, new places, and new ideas.
Men, especially, will notice loss of muscular strength. There will be
increased unsteadiness and delicate muscle movements will be clumsier and
the stride in waking will become shorter.
The conclusion now is that the performance and ability of the elderly has
long been underestimated and can be greatly improved by a proper diet,
sleep and exercise along with rest and relaxation.
Time to worry
Many elderly people tend to lose their joy and will to live and chronic
worriers may mope around and withdraw. Medical authorities now say that
laughter is one of the best medicines for the elderly. You can always keep
your sense of humour tuned up by surrounding yourself with pleasant and
interesting people. Just act your age and don't be afraid to laugh at
yourself even when no else is around.
Do something physical every day
Now that we all know the role that physical activity plays in our lives,
remember to do something physical every day. The joints must be used or
quite simply they will tighten with age creating that stooped worn out
appearance we so often associate with getting old. Keep yourself flexible
and fit on an exercise program consistent with your ability.
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