What do you think are “Normal” Symptoms of Ageing?
“Dana’s normal. I’m not.”
John Lydon – AKA Johnny Rotten. Sex Pistols and Public Image Limited lead singer plus general awkward bloke I imagine it very difficult (but also fascinating) to be in conversation with.
Dana. She is an Irish singer who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970 whilst still a schoolgirl with “All Kinds of Everything”. She went on to become a politician and served as an MEP from 1999 to 2004.
It stuck in my mind that quote when I heard it sometime in the late 80s. I can’t remember where I saw the interview with Lydon and I can’t find it on YouTube either but it resonated with me. I didn’t want to be like Dana. I didn’t necessarily want to be like Johnny Rotten either but given the choice I’d rather be him than her. He doesn’t give two hoots about what he says (Bill Grundy will tell you that) because he believes it to be the truth and I suppose that is where we are similar. I don’t care either because everything I say is with the best intentions and I say it because I care and I want to help – even if it does sometimes make others feel uncomfortable!
Anyway, scientists are still working on the more important question ‘How do we “explain” ageing? as it doesn’t seem to be fully understood yet so instead the research tends to examine the ‘symptoms’ of ageing as they appear to be easier to study. So what should we expect to see?
- Skin loses elasticity.
- Hair thins and becomes more grey.
- Compression of joints causing a loss of height.
- High frequency sounds become difficult to hear around age 55.
- Most people need reading glasses by age 50 as the lenses begin to stiffen.
- Changes occur in the menstrual cycle before it ceases.
- Sleep duration and quality of sleep decline.
- Bones become more fragile.
- Metabolic rate slows down often resulting in weight gain.
No doubt you are aware of all of these and then some more which are more unfortunate like arthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia. The chances of contracting those all increase with age. But are they ‘normal’? Should we ‘expect’ to see those coming into our lives?
Studies show us that these are normal signs of ageing because the studies are based on people who are generally representative of our society, many of whom are overweight, sedentary and with beliefs that we should approach movement with less intensity as we age
“Ooh slow down Fred. You don’t want to do that. You’ll have a bloody heart attack if you’re not careful. Go for a walk or do a bit of gardening instead.”
Intense exercise and good nutrition aren’t part of the programme as far as normal people are concerned and since they make up the bulk of our society they are considered to be normal symptoms of ageing. They aren’t normal symptoms for me though and they aren’t normal for what our ancestors have fought through 3.5 million years of evolution for you to become either! They are normal symptoms for people who are unhealthy but don’t know it.
The diseases mentioned above are believed to be ‘inevitable’ by a lot of people and the best they can hope for is a new pill to be developed that will cure whatever it is they may contract. Well I tell you now, no pill is ever going to be invented that will “cure” anything. What ‘may’ cure them though and certainly will help to make them avoidable are lifestyle choices. Please note here that I am not saying everybody who contracts some of the conditions mentioned are all lifestyle related.
We didn’t evolve to sit in front of a tv under bright lights and eat processed garbage. We evolved to be active, move with purpose, to eat real food and drink water and to go to bed when it got dark. There wasn’t a choice! They were conditions for survival!
“Yeah why are we living longer now then Paul? Hey? Go on. Answer that one?”
We are living longer because we have sanitation, bricks, central heating, law and wonderful ACUTE medical care. So many deaths occurred in infancy plus we died from infection, famine and battle so the AVERAGE age of death was lower in the past but many went on to live into old age.
The media and the world at large will steer you towards activities that are not conducive to enhancing the quality of your life: eating, drinking, watching tv, the cinema, holidays and driving because that is the easiest to sell and it is easy to sell because they require no effort. As humans we are hard wired to conserve energy, to store fat, that is how we have gotten so far up the evolutionary chain.
Without your great, great, great grandad you wouldn’t be here today so perhaps ask yourself the question – what would he think of what I do with my body? What would he think are normal signs of ageing?