Growing Old Gracefully
Today the average duration of human life in the United States
is just about 70 years for women and a little less for men.
Conservative experts believe that man is really build to last
about 100 years; and that medial advances and more healthful
living habits could bring this about within a generation or
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
From 18 to 30 years is roughly the period of highest physical
and mental vigor. 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 vigor. After age 50 the increasing accumulation
of experience is no longer able to offset the now more rapidly
energy and therefore aging 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
Also in the forties, people are likely to put on weight
because there is a general slowdown in the oxidation rate
of the aging body tissue. Also we tend to do less strenuous
work with no reduction in the amount of food consumed.
And in the fifties there is likely to be some loss of hearing.
Usually the high-pitched tomes go first, so words with the
sounds of F, S, and TH are confused. A hearing aid may be
needed in some cases.
Aging 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 more clumsy 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
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 humor 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.
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.