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26 February, 2017

AIN'T EASY MAGEE! BUT I'M DOING MY BEST COPING WITH AGING

Exercise for me these days consists of getting out of bed in the morning, taking care of household chores, looking after my ailing wife's needs and excursions shopping for the sustenance of life. This winter I shovel snow only when navigating the white fluffy stuff becomes a virtual impossibility. Why use aching muscles and joints to clear it when I can just plow through it? Right!

As Rosanne's tastes become more spontaneous and finicky, I find myself increasingly settling for food that is of a convenience nature, simply because of the time-saving factor and the effort that it takes to prepare more nutritious meals just for myself.

I also readily acknowledge that I should get a full night's sleep instead of writing until the wee small hours of the morning and opting for cat naps (I call it passing out) through the day.

Because I erroneously consider myself invincible, I chose not to weigh the effect that my current lifestyle may have on my longevity...Up to now, that is.

I read recently that every single second at least one person dies from an age-related condition. What’s more, research estimates that by the year 2020 the percentage of aging-related deaths will increase another 25 percent. To add fuel to my fire, I was further taken aback with the revelation of telltale signs that “Father Time” is closing in on me and knocking on my door, i.e.:

*Skin issues (such as dry skin, age spots, wrinkles, and saggy skin)

*Joint discomfort, stiffness, and/or swelling

*Weakened muscles

*Frail bones

*Memory and other cognitive issues

*Declining vision and auditory skills

*Decreased energy and increased fatigue

*A weakening immune system, leaving you sick more and more often

*An under performing circulatory system

*A cardiovascular system that just can’t support a truly active lifestyle any longer

*Hormonal decline

*Feeling blue and moody

*Dulling, thinning hair

*Loss of muscle tone and a youthful figure

*Slowed metabolism and perpetual weight gain


Fact is, these common concerns and the inescapable reality of aging are no laughing matter. Even worse, there are a host of environmental and lifestyle factors that are constantly preying on the youth of every cell in our bodies:

*UV rays that damage the DNA of skin cells, leading to thinning skin, sun spots, wrinkles, exaggerated expression lines, and even pervasive dryness and itching

*Stress, which sends the age-accelerating hormone cortisol into overdrive

*Mood-related issues which have been linked to as much as a decade of accelerated aging

*Lack of sleep shown to significantly shorten the length of DNA telomeres (AKA your “cellular timekeepers”)

*Too much or too little exercise -- studies show that both the highly active and sedentary populations have similar age-related bio markers as a result of too little or too much of a good thing

*Poor nutrition, leading to a lack of antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals that fight the aging process

*Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) infiltrating our diet which have been linked to poor immune function and accelerated aging

*Excessive Omega-6 fatty acid intake – the most prevalent fatty acid in the North American diet – which has been shown to accelerate aging and significantly increase inflammation

*Highly processed carbohydrates and sugar intake which promote the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End-products). These mutated proteins have been shown to significantly accelerate cellular aging.

*Overeating in general, which produces age-accelerating free radicals

*Alcohol consumption, which decreases the body’s antioxidant activity while at the same time increasing cell-damaging free radicals – a double whammy!

*Being overweight, which by itself leads to a state of increased cell-damaging oxidative stress

*Over-the-counter and prescription medications, a good number of which have been linked to accelerated aging

*Pesticides, herbicides, pollution, and other environmental toxins have all been shown to increase the appearance of skin aging and do damage to delicate skin DNA.


Simply put, the odds are stacked against us...The world we live in today takes what Mother Nature intended to be a much more gradual, graceful aging process full of vitality and longevity, and accelerates it unfairly beyond belief. And when you realize the constant danger the delicate cells of our body and most precious organs are continually being exposed to in today’s day and age, it’s no wonder that research shows the devastating physical consequences of aging are the #1 fear of adults over 40.

The good news is that stimuli and a positive attitude are attributed to "successful" aging more than anything else. (It's not enough to just tick off the birthdays.) Researchers at one time defined successful aging as an absence of or low level of disease and disability. Now, however, a fascinating new study of more than 500 elders aged 60 to 98 challenges that notion. It turns out that people who think they are aging well are not necessarily the healthiest individuals. Optimism and effective coping styles (or attitude) were found to be the keys to aging successfully rather than traditional measures of health and wellness.

The study used subjective reports by the participants, all of whom lived independently, and the sample of individuals matched the national averages of medical and mental health conditions. Also, those who regularly engaged in such activities as reading and writing and community socializing gave themselves higher scores than those who did not. And in contradiction to longtime perceived wisdom, volunteer activities were not found to exert the same influence on participants.

Thus, the things leading to successful aging are well within an individual's control. The key is adopting personal coping mechanisms as difficulties come along, and remaining as physically, socially, and mentally active as possible in one's circumstances.

On that score, I'm doing the best I can and will continue to do so, plowing through the deep stuff.  The means will surely justify the end.

I might try to eat a little better and get more sleep at night, but I'll continue to meet challenges life has placed before me, all the while indulging a passion for living and the things that bring personal satisfaction and gratification...I will not worry about the rest, even if it kills me!

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