Springingtiger's Blog

We Die More Slowly These Days

wpid-20130808_170110_2.jpgSometimes things fall from my hands, perhaps their grip is inadequate or possibly they’ve forgotten to hold on. Silly little things that have no excuse for falling like a bag of tea, no weight at all, but down it goes. That annoyance is compounded by the stereotypical event of increasing age, that of arriving upstairs with no idea of what I have come up for; it no longer occurs as a joke. Needless to say like many of my contemporaries I could give you a long list of aches, pains, and other twinges, but I shall spare you. Did I mention bladders? Well I won’t, some things are best left unsaid. I suspect a large part of these problems arise from how we have been taught to think of age and for my generation as children we thought of ‘old’ as beginning at sixty (actually I remember when I thought of Forty as old!). We have an expectation of what age will bring and I wonder whether the twinges and memory loss don’t arise from our expectations rather than reality, after all many people happily defy those expectations. If Fauja Singh born in 1911 can still run marathons at his age, I don’t think I can honestly claim my age stops me doing anything, I love that this centenarian is described on Wikipedia as a ‘British Athlete’, I am doubly delighted that it is true.

People say the health services are under pressure because people are living longer, I am not sure who said. “We are not living longer, we’re just dying more slowly”, but there seems to be some point in it. There was a time of shorter life expectancy when we could have expected to have departed this life before our physical systems showed ant serious degeneration. I don’t think I want to return to those days of malnutrition and inadequate housing however much the Tories try to return us to them. What is true is that we are more aware of degeneration with age, but many of the diseases we associate with age can start in comparatively young people. I am sure in my childhood we saw very few people dying of Alzheimers or Parkinson’s Disease, perhaps we just didn’t notice them. Today’s world seems full of debilitating and degenerating conditions we knew not half a century ago. It appears that there are more people contracting cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and the various diseases of the immune system like Lupus, but perhaps this is just an appearance, I don’t have the figures in front of me. However it is the appearance that matters, perception fuels expectation. As long as we expect illness and degeneration our minds and bodies will oblige us by providing them. I don’t know whether eating well, enjoying exercise in the fresh air, generally having fun will make any difference to the process of ageing. However it seems a much better way to approach it than sitting on my airse, moaning while waiting for the end.


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I recall how my Alexander Technique teacher, Patrick Macdonald, told us that Americans were so ignorant of the English language that they don’t know an arse from an ass.

Comment by Robert Frost

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