Health

Eight Curious Facts About Aging

Old age is a death sentence. That’s my irrefragable opinion. I have this morbid attitude about aging, because I know where it leads. But when I talk morbidly about it, young people sometimes respond with reassurances such as, “Oh no, you’re going to live forever. You’re not going anywhere. When I get old, you’ll still be around, mark my words.”

This leaves me wondering, what part of the Circle of Life do they not understand?

This is where old age always seems to lead.

Having completed nearly the full 360 degrees, I guess I know a lot more about the Circle than young people. I also have academic credentials, having studied Gerontology 101 in college. But never mind any of that. I recently got on Google and researched old age, which makes me a true expert. Here are eight mildly curious facts I uncovered, before I fell asleep:

  1. The elderly are the fastest growing demographic in America. About 17% of the U.S. population is aged 65 or older, and this will grow to 20% by 2030, after the last of the baby boomers reaches old age. We old folks expect the declining number of young people to support us through their contributions to Social Security and Medicare. So get busy, you whippersnappers! Stop whining about everything and get a job! No, get two jobs! We need you!
  2. A male at birth is expected to live five years less than a female born in the same year. However, the average male at 70 years old has only two years less to live than the average female of the same age. And at age 85, the difference in remaining life expectancy dwindles to only one year. It’s as if Mother Nature punishes husbands for surviving many years of incessant nagging, by giving us a few extra years of browbeating.
  3. Only 3.6% of people over age 65 are in nursing homes. The rest are doing our best to convince young people we don’t need a nursing home.
  4. Four out of five elderly people battle at least one chronic health condition. Mine is napalepsy.
  5. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are increasing rapidly among the elderly, with cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia doubling in recent years. But hey, what do you expect from a bunch of former hippies?
  6. The brain never stops growing, even in older people. Humans are always growing new neurons, and the brain is constantly reshaping its neural patterns, as it learns new things. The new things old people have to learn are stuff like: how to fool our doctors when given a memory test; how to operate the motorized carts at the supermarket; and how to write to our congressional representatives over anything we want to complain about.
  7. Like the brain, the ears and noses of elderly people seem to never stop growing, also. Many assume that the reason old geezers have such big ears and noses, is due to continual cartilage growth. But the real cause is from the long-term effects of gravity. And all those years of wearing earrings, nose rings, nipple rings, and so forth, only makes matters worse.
  8. The stereotype of the grumpy old man, or sour old woman is a myth. We tend to mellow as we age, and become more agreeable and tractable. I think this is because when we’re old, we know we’re going leave this cruel world soon, so we stop taking it too seriously. But it can also be from the satisfaction of knowing we can soil our diapers in public at any time, with nobody around us being the wiser.

Categories: Health

55 replies »

  1. Like you, I have no problem talking with anyone about my death – except my grandson. He wrestles with the impending loss too deeply, so I divert him with something more fun to discuss. He’ll manage it when it happens, and he’ll hopefully remember that my impending death never caused me any anxiety or gloominess. My view is that I am getting my final arrangements in order, and I am satisfied with my understanding of where I am going after I leave my body.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Raised in a Buddhist household, so I quit wrestling with death early on. You probably know about Maranasati. More terrifying to me is an implication of the “Many Worlds” interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, usually termed “Quantum Immortality”. Since every possible branch of some state of the universe is a reality, there will always be some where you (and Schrodinger’s cat) are alive, no matter how improbable. Senility could turn out to be a blessing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I was not familiar with the term “Mansarati,” so I had to Google it. Maybe I just forgot the word, but I’m very familiar with the concept. Contemplating death can help us come to terms with it, and possibly lead to insights that help to prepare for the hereafter.

      As far as Quantum Immortality, and the Schrodinger’s cat stuff, that sort of stuff leaves me with crossed eyes and pounding headaches. So I avoid venturing into that weirdly complex territory very often.

      Like

      • Something I’ve considered sincerely from an informed perspective. Strikes me as resulting from a desperation to save “free will”… even physicists aren’t immune to the unnecessary machinations of belief.

        And as usual, I can’t get WP to function properly… so no likes and a probably anonymous identity.

        Liked by 1 person

    • My son was exposed to Buddha when very young. At least I am assuming that because he was out playing with my hammer one day and I suddenly heard him say “Oh Buddha!” I guess it was his attempt at praying that his finger would stop hurting?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Being a person with a science background, I usually end up thinking that no matter how long we live and what sort of temporarily indelible mark we leave on history, it’s pretty much all going to be burned up in a couple of billion years when the sun swells up and my meager contributions to humanity will count for no more or less than those of DaVinci or Mozart.

    And even we escaped this doomed star system and make our way out into the greater universe, the era of star formation is already winding down. At some point, in billions of years it will stop altogether, and the last stars will slowly fade until there is no more light to see. And at some point in some uncountably high number of years, even the black holes will dissipate and entropy will be close to it final goal of ending the universe and time.

    So, I’m OK with all of this I guess.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Number 2 is why I married a younger man, though now according to your facts, 3 years age difference won’t matter much.

    Having worked with elderly people for most of my life I disagree with Number 8. It is not a myth! Haven’t you seen fhe movie Grumpy Old Men? πŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve chronic napalepsy as well. The symptoms grow worse with children.

    I think old people get grumpy because they more uncomfortable, and their hearing loss makes young-people noises more irritating.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think the most important new things old people have to learn are all technology-related. Everything moves too fast, becomes new and improved just at the time we’ve finally figured out how the old and unimproved stuff worked and have actually come to appreciate it!

    I speak from my personal experience this week when I was “forced” to get a new phone because my old one, like me, couldn’t keep up with how fast everything was trying to come at it. I’ve “played” with it a little bit and it maybe almost doesn’t seem too scary to use. I also kept my old one, as kind of a “security” cell phone. I was surprised and shocked to realize that some of what’s on there is still usable!

    I got an Apple watch and an iPad as part of the package from Verizon. I’m no hurry to start trying to figure out how to use either of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get pretty frustrated with hand-held electronics. I think if all these gadgets came with well-written and thorough user manuals, they’d be easier to figure out. Good luck with your iPad.

      Like

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