Getting Older - Do you have a fear of getting older?
Due to sheduIed speaking engagements, I will be traveling towards the end of July and am taking some time to visit my family up North while passing through. Therefore, there will be no blog post on July 25th., 2022. Posts will resume on August 1st., 2022.
So many times we take things for granted. Our age and stage of life is one of them. I received a touching email from a 26 year old young lady from Canada stating she was afraid of getting older and asked me to write about it. What intrigued me about the email was I thought back to when I was that age. I could not remember myself or any of my friends taking about getting older. It is something that normally does not occur at that age. Therefore, I decided to write about it.
Although this week would typically be a video blog post, but due to time constraints and preparing for my travels, I did not have the time to record one. My monthly video post will resume the second Monday of August, 2022.
Thank you for understanding.
Maybe it's the times we live in, the pandemic, or some other reason that is causing this young lady to have these thoughts, but they are important ones. Although I am not in my twenties, I am far from elderly. However, getting older seems to be a significant concern for many young people these days. The data shows that we start to raise these questions in our minds when we turn 50. At 60, they become more paramount.
It is said that there is nothing golden about the golden years except the color of your urine. Frankly, I do not know how much truth there is to that statement. However, I can tell you after over 30 years in pre-hospital medicine, I have cared for my share of elderly adults. I must admit that very few seemed happy about how they felt as they grew older. So let's look a little deeper at the question.
SHOULD WE FEAR GETTING OLDER?
Getting older and having a good quality of life when we become older revolves around preparation. Preparation that should begin when we are young. Unforatunately, when w are young, getting older is the last thing on our minds. We do not think about mantaining our health, financial planning, etc. That has improved some, but not enough. In addition, many do not have the means to do both. When I started working, my father used to say to me, put something, anything, into your savings account each week and never touch it. Over time, it will build up. He was correct. YEs, there were weeks I had to sacrifice other things to meet that goal, and even to this day, I continue that practice. Why, because life happens. Whether we want it to or not, and we do not always know what it will bring.
However, we must all must realize and accept two things:
No one lives forever.
The body is a degenerative machine.
The first is self-explanatory, so let's focus on the second. The body degrades as we get older. It is a degenerative machine. We can delay it with exercise and a good diet. However, it is still a degenerative machine, which means it will begin to break down as we age. Our body's organs will not function well, and muscle strength and balance will decrease as our hormones change. Some, but not all, begin to lose some other facilities such as hearing, eyesight, cognitive thinking, etc. Some sooner than later.
Our body starts to age from the day we are born. Most of us don't worry about what we put our bodies through in our teenage and early adult years. During that period, we rarely think about getting old. Some drink excessively, do drugs, and get very little sleep. Then there are the abusive, physically demanding jobs that many do. I, for one, had two of those jobs. A Firefighter and a Paramedic. Both are physically demanding jobs, not to mention the stress level and eating loads of fast food because we are always on the run. We were staying up late, getting little sleep and rest. Let's face it. Many do this for years. For years, getting five hours of sleep a night seemed like a blessing.
Things such as exercise and diet are good. However, anything that is overdone no longer becomes good. For example, a bodybuilder that lifts insane amounts of weight for years and use steroids to gain strength might suffer from joint pain or back problems. The same applies to many sports players. Not all, but many. Later in life, they could develop even more severe medical issues such as cardiac problems from the excessive use of steroids and other illnesses. Excessive alcohol or drug use over time will also take its toll. All the things people do not think about when they are young.
THE ROOT CAUSE:
Is there a root cause? If so, what is it? Lack of understanding or acceptance? Fear of the unknown? Is it something everyone has and will experience? Remember when you used to bounce out of bed with little sleep and not have an ache or a pain? I said earlier the body is a degenerative machine. It does not get better with age. It starts to fail. For some, depending on genetics, family history, and early lifestyle, it could be sooner than later. Your doctor asks about your family history because those disease processes are the ones you are pre-disposed to and have a higher risk of getting. I have cared for people in their 90s who did not have to take one pill. And others in their 40s and 50s are on a host of medications. However, the root cause of fear of getting older is us. None of us want to grow old. We realize with getting older comes a shorter time on this planet—the time with our family and friends, among other things.
Do not get carried away in your mind. No one is saying you should reach an age where you sit on a couch and wait to die. My neighbor is 96 years old and walks 2-4 miles daily. Much of how we age is the state of our mind. If you are active, young at heart and mind, you will feel more youthful, act more youthful, and even look younger. You may still have the aches and pains of getting older, but your outlook on getting older will improve. It will not stop you from living a good life versus becoming a couch potato. No one knows what illnesses they may get. Many can be avoided or pushed back a few years with today's medicine and regular doctor's visits. Indeed, there is a much better chance of getting them and keeping them under control.
People do not go to their doctor for fear of what MIGHT be found or what they might be told. They do not understand that well-care and preventative medicine can save and dramatically extend their life. Therefore, again, the root cause is ourselves and our fears. It is a matter of viewing things differently or from a different viewpoint. Our mental outlook on getting older will keep us younger or make us older quicker.
I use this image a great deal because it's true and represents reality.
Fear is the main thing that stops us from living our best life at any age. The fear of taking a chance on that new job, going to the doctor, taking a chance on a new relationship, and much more. Fear can and will decide your future if you let it. There are no guarantees in life that no matter what you do will turn out the way you wanted it to. However, if you don't try, you will never know. Do not fear getting older. The saying goes, "Getting older is a blessing that has been denied to many." Plan your next vacation. Do not live as if tomorrow will not come. Who knows, it may not, but that also is not guaranteed. However, dwelling on it is unhealthy and can quickly put you into a state of depression. If you never leave your house for fear of being hit by a bus, you won't get hit by a bus, but you will also not have a life.
Many say, what is the purpose of living if we are only going to die one day. The answer to that question lies in your religious faith, your beliefs, and if you're the type that questions everything in life. Worse, if you require an answer. Some questions have no immediate answers. Therefore, we must learn to accept them for what they are. If the answer was that there is no purpose, would that change the way you live, or live at all? Of course, it would not, and it should not.
You are here on this planet. Make the best of it and enjoy every moment you have. Not everyone is wealthy and has the money to fly off to exotic places. Most of us have to work for a living and plan our vacations for when we can afford them. However, a very wealthy friend of mine once said to me. "I envy you," I asked; why? You have the money to do whatever you want, whenever you want. He replied, "Because the friends you have, you know, are your friends because they like you. I don't know if mine like me or my money."
After thinking about that, I got it. So you see, every situation has its drawbacks. In addition, when he gets older, he won't know if people can't wait for him to kick the bucket to get his money. At least for me, no one will be waiting for me to get older and kick the bucket to get my money. LOL.
The bottom line is, DO NOT be afraid to grow older. Be thankful you had the chance, and live every minute of it the way you want. REMEMBER:
It's never about what you have. It is always about what you do with it that matters.
Stay safe, be happy, and be well,
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