Man, talk about some sobering stuff. Talk about a wake up call.
That moment when reality kind of hits you between the eyes? Or more to the point, when your future reality does so? Try being 50 and being in a class studying health issues in the elderly. I’m not elderly yet (some of you may think I am, if you are still reading anyway) but maybe getting closer to shouting distance.
Honestly, I don’t really dread getting older, I’ve been amazed at how well I embrace where I am in life.
Here is the amazing and very encouraging thing that I’m picking up: Getting older does not equate to getting sick. On the contrary it can be an incredible time in life. Depending.
See, the things that most people associate with old age, things like dementia, being bed ridden, cancers, are not results of getting old. There are aspects of the body getting older, where it just loses some of its efficiency in a lot of different areas. In the end, the stuff that really sucks about getting older has more to do with a lifelong accumulation from what happens in the years before. For the really bad stuff, in the end I think the reason you see it more in older age is a couple of things: One is you just cannot overwhelm your body for so long with bad stuff without it catching up. The other is, that it’s not the aging that is causing the issues as much as because of aging the body just isn’t as good at overcoming stuff it shouldn’t have to overcome to begin with. In the end, aging is really about all of your life prior to aging just coming to a head.
For me, the real hit between the eyes thing is related to Alzheimer’s disease. What it comes down to is that diabetes and obesity lead to a much higher risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Being where I’ve been… that’s sobering.
The other night I saw my daughters’ school play. They did Flowers for Algenon. I don’t know if you’ve read the book or not, but they did an incredible job. I never would have thought I’d have tears going down my cheek at the end of a high school play, you know? The story is fictitious, about a surgery done to help someone improve his intelligence. The surgery was successful and the subject, Charlie, grew incredibly intelligent, to the point where he was able to realize that he would see a reversion and eventually lose this intelligence. The young man playing Charlie did an incredible job bringing out the angst and frustration of watching his ability to think fade away. As I was watching that I just thought, I wonder how much this must be like for someone with Alzheimer’s. There is something terrifying about the prospect of that happening.
If anything were to try to bring me back to old habits, thinking about this kind of stuff is the kind of thing that puts a halt to that, you know?
That’s what this whole turning life around is about. It’s not just about changing things for the here and now, but about making my life 10, 20 or 30 years from now better.
If you are where Ive been, or even where I am considering I’ve got a ways to go… do something. Here’s the thing, where ever you are, you have a chance to turn things around. We have more of a choice about what our older years are going to be like than we realize.
What choice are you going to make?