Age is just a number

“Older people in the future will have many characteristics exhibited by young people,” says Sergei Scherbov, World Population Program Deputy Director of the International Institute for Applied Systems (IIASA) in Vienna, Austria.

His comment came during release of a research study by his institute in 2015.

That study claims “old age” now starts at age 74 while ‘middle age” continues for at least nine years longer than other studies suggest.

“If you don’t consider people old just because they reached age 65 but instead take into account how long they have left to live, then the faster the increase in life expectancy, the less aging is actually going on,” he adds.

“What we think of as old has changed over time, and it will need to continue changing in the future as people live longer, healthier lives. 200 years ago, a 60-year-old would be a very old person. Someone who is 60 years old today, I would argue is middle-aged.”

Actress and businesswoman Brooke Shields is 53 and told The Telegraph In London this week that “women in their 50s are sexier. If you don’t like it, that’s not my problem.”

She adds: “I’ll take anything as long as I don’t have to have one of these hot flashes. I so cannot handle those.”

My wife, Amy, is 65 (and she doesn’t mind telling anyone her age) and and is sexier.  Just ask the men who still keep putting moves on her.

At 71, it is good to know that I’m still in my middle ages and not old.  IIASA says “65 year olds today are healthier, less dependent on others and more mentally agile than ever before.”

The president of the United States is 72 and two projected opponents he might face in a re-election effort in 2020 are older.  Many other possible opponents are women.

A survey by TD Ameritrade last year found 73 percent of women and 59 percent of men feel “70 is the new 50.”

“They don’t necessarily have to sacrifice anymore to take care of everyone else,” says Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD.

National Public Radio ran into a lot of people who didn’t care for calling a 71-year-old midwife “elderly” in a news report.

“REALLY?!? ‘ELDERLY MIDWIFE’?! She’s 71 and delivering babies!” said one commenter. “There’s nothing elderly about her, and these days, not even her age!”

NPR changes the headline.

“Nobody likes to think of themselves as old, let alone very old,” says Michael Vuolo, co-host of Slate’s Lexicon Valley podcast. ” ‘Elderly’ often carries the connotation of feeble and dependent. Which is offensive if you’re not and condescendingly euphemistic if you are.”

I had a mini-meltdown Friday when I finished out a week by getting two names wrong in news reports (caught, thankfully, by editors) and missing what I felt was an important lunch because I wrote the time down wrong.  In all three cases, I had either the proper spelling of the names and the time right in front of me each time I wrote them incorrectly.

I’ve had some problems with memory and cognisance since suffering a brain injury in 2012 but Carilion Hospital declared me fit to resume my normal activities.

Still, such problems worry me.  A retired state trooper and deputy deputy sheriff — and a failed candidate for elected office — publicly question whether or not I should legally hold a concealed carry permit for a weapon in Virginia, so i posed the question to Circuit Judge Marc Long, who approves such requests in Floyd County, and he said I passed the necessary screening and had the right to hold the permit and own firearms.

I asked my doctor, Joe Baum, who retired late last year, is my memory and other issues were a cause of my brain injury or just old age.

“Probably both,” he said, “but I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Several friends have told me recently that “you don’t look your age.”  Most guess my age at the late 50s but I sometimes feel even older than 71.  If one is only as old as you feei, then I could be in trouble during those times.

Amy and I are spending the weekend looking at my current work and lifestyles to see what, if anything, needs to be change.  The depression I felt Friday was unusual.  I’m normally more on an even keel.

While some may disagree, I don’t write articles simply to generate controversy or upset people.  I try to raise issues that I hope can result in useful discussion.  However, my language and use of some words sometimes bring quick, and harsh, responses from others.

I don’t write columns with an intent to anger and elicit praise from anyone.  If someone believes I have stepped over the line, I go back and take a second look.  In more than one case, I have either modified the language to try and clarify the feeling or — on some cases — removed the column entirely and issued an apology.

I’m not perfect — never claimed to be.  I’m not smarter than others.  More often, I’m dumber.

As the study in Vienna found, I should not be too old to learn, which I hope to do in a continuing effort to learn how to do it right.

© 2004-2022 Blue Ridge Muse

2 thoughts on “Age is just a number”

  1. Doug you are neither old nor fading. To the contrary I feel you are quite sharp. At our age it is normal to miss a few things, which is why we all keep calendars and written lists where we can readily see them. In retirement we are no longer in the “time efficiency mode” we lived in while working, so we think somewhat differently, spending more time savoring the present. That’s the joy of the “golden years”, even if it means sacrificing some of the mind clogging details that come with high efficiency. Just accept that you will miss a few things from time to time and enjoy your life to the fullest. You seem to have your priorities straight, with Amy being numbers 1, 2, and 3. Everything else after that is just icing on the cake.

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