Aging Well And Living Gracefully Through The Golden Years
The elderly, from the age perspective, could be described as those up to and above 65 years of age. Everywhere in the world, senior citizens are revered and are relied upon to lead in communities; and every year, the first day of October is set aside to celebrate the elderly worldwide.
From his desire to live, homo sapiens have always been willing to even trade off quality of life for longevity and man has always wished to stay in perpetuity. Two hundred years ago, man’s average life expectancy was less than 50 years. Through archaeological excavations, scientists have accepted that 30,000 years ago, man hardly lived for more than 30 years. Living up to 50 years is a recent development and signs of aging begin to appear at the age of 25. Longevity is a fruit of man’s efforts through scientific discoveries. With improvement in sanitation a little over two centuries ago, man was able to rescue himself from the struggles against germs that caused his demise early in the past. Following recent advances in medicine, medical technology and aging research, man’s life expectancy has tremendously increased and more people are living for more than 100 years. Presently, the average life expectancy in a developed country such as the United States is 78. Although, life expectancy in Nigeria is less than 50, there are still a lot of people who pass the age of 70 gracefully.
Scientists have some thoughts on how and why we age. Genetic theories place aging in the realm of genetics and the non-genetic theories place aging in the realm of environmental impact on the body. The science of negligible senescence or slow aging has directly or indirectly assumed a frontline position in the search for cure of diseases. Death, for now is inevitable, and there is a consensus that aging slowly and gracefully is possible and is desirable.
From the existing body of knowledge, techniques with proven results can be safely employed to live longer. Body parts, structures and substances can be replaced (replace principle), and their functions can be restored (restore principle). Through the recent advances as a result of Human Genome Project (HUGEM), human genetic code has been sequenced. This capability made it possible to predict diseases that will affect a person in the future. We have also seen cure to many diseases with stem cell research. We can also graft bone marrow stem cell with promise to cure diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, progerus, taysac disease while viral immunisation to cure Alzeimers disease is in the horizon.
What to Do to Age Well and to Live Long
Take it easy’ and be easy going. This is not a time to want to become a multi-billionaire if you are not already one. Enjoy active leisure, dance, smile and laugh yourself out frequently. Laughing heals; make joking part of your life.
Challenge yourself: Although you should take life easy, you are more likely to be fulfilled if you are challenged in what you do. Therefore, do things for which you feel reasonably enthused to do
Eat less: Consume less amount of food at one time. Your body does not need a lot of calories as you no longer have the need to grow or to procreate. Eat balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
Engage in physical activity: Walk a mile daily or five days a week. Engage in exercise that makes you sweat and which you can continuously perform for 20 minutes non-stop. Give your brain the mental exercise by reading and doing word puzzles regularly to preserve your mental alertness and acuity.
Food and supplements: In old age, some supplements may be needed for your bone health and prostate health. Baby aspirin prevents heart attack. Let your doctor know the medications you take and be careful with herbs.
Engage in community service: retirement does not mean you no longer can work. You can continue to earn a living. You may work for community service. Now is the time to give back, be charitable with your wealth and any skills you are endowed with.
Medical checkups: Regular annual or semiannual checkups are important. Prostate check, mammograph, colonoscopy are annual routines you should follow. Get flu shots, and be vaccinated against pneumonea. Check your hearing and vision annually and perform dental checks twice a year. Protect your heart by taking daily aspirin if your doctor permits you. Stay on top of your health.
Build safety into your way of life. Protect your feet by wearing covered shoes; don’t go to the farm except in boots. Clear your home of clutters and obstructions. Use rugs that are fastened onto the ground and don’t walk on wet floors. Wear safety belt when in car and use lightenings that are non-glare. Use color to contrast uneven surfaces such as steps and use cane if necessary. Protect yourself from harmful sun rays in hot weather by using umbrella and sunglasses. Stay indoors in the afternoon on sunny and hot days.
I want to be able to attain the golden years as a lot have done. I pray and hope to be so blessed. The elderly are very useful; with the benefits of their experience and productive lifestyle they are the ones that will lead our nation to the path of sanity and prosperity and redirect our country. We should, today and always, appreciate the elderly their evolutionary role in the past, for role in the present time and in the future and, wish them wonderful golden years. Wishing the elderly a Happy Elders’ Day.
Being an abridged version of a paper delivered by Dr. Ade Oyeyemi, a physiotherapist and associate professor, at a seminar organised by Geriatric Care Foundation (GCF) in Abuja recently
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