"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

How old is old?

By on July 26, 2021 in Columnist with 0 Comments
Jim Brown

By Jim Brown, M.D.

As a retired senior and former physician, I am well aware my chronological age (birth to today) has already exceeded what once was my life expectancy.

The World Health Organization characterizes old age as starting at 65. In America, one researcher found you are considered old at 70 years for men and 73 for females. In many countries you are considered “old” when you start receiving a pension.

Fortunately, the quality of life, activity and health does not necessarily diminish as the old age threshold is crossed.

How old are you and does it matter?

The definition of “old’ can differ in the opinion of the person being asked. As the life expectancy of humans increases, so does the perception of what age is considered “old.”

Other studies show the older we get, the more likely we are to feel younger.

We often have a shift in our interests and the activities we participate in as we age. I know that is the case with me.

As our chronological age increases, our happiness also frequently increases along with it. When we are young, we tend to focus on what is ahead for us. When we get older, our attention frequently shifts to things that are more emotionally meaningful to us in the present.

Personally, I prefer to focus on the present moment as much as possible. While my chronological age may say “old,” I refuse to accept that.

One of the most important aspects of all this has to do with our health. As long as we can stay healthy and remain active, our mental and physical selves seem to discard any thoughts of “being old.”

Our health reflects a lifetime of habits — both good and bad ones. It is never too late to change the current state of your health. Try these ideas:

n Don’t smoke or if you do, quit or find help to quit.

n Eat less and focus more on fruits and vegetables. Obesity kills, no doubt about it. I have to admit when I see morbidly obese people, my first thought is “do they realize how much shorter their life expectancy is?”

n Exercise. I can’t imagine not having a regular exercise plan. Exercise reduces the risk of so many diseases. As simple and inexpensive as it is, walking two miles a day religiously will add years to your life and take inches off your waistline.

n Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Too much or too little sleep is harmful to your health.

n Get vaccinated and wash your hands. Vaccinations are one of the most important ways humans have reduced mortality through our lives. They not only protect you, but also protect those around you.

n Take care of your teeth. Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly.

n Wear sunscreen. It helps to avoid skin cancers and decreases the risk of wrinkles. Unfortunately, this has been a weakness for me, and I have paid the penalty with several skin cancers.

n Monitor your blood pressure and heart rate daily. Home monitors that also monitor your pulse are readily available and inexpensive. Persistent high blood pressure and or heart rate need to be evaluated by a physician.

n Research shows flossing your teeth may protect against cognitive decline.

If interested in your future prospects, you can calculate your current life expectancy online. Go to www.Livingto100.com.

Life is a gift. Take care of it wisely. You will not regret it.

Jim Brown, M.D., is a retired gastroenterologist who has practiced for 38 years in the Wenatchee area. He is a former CEO of the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center.

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