I’ve written before in this column about aging and sometimes made an analogy comparing it to owning a used car. When you have an old used car, it takes more maintenance, oil changes and greasing jobs to keep it running. The human body is like that.
As we age, the engine (heart) ages. The wiring (nerves) becomes more fragile, the transmission (legs) becomes less reliable, the chassis (bodywork) becomes more rusty, etc. the aging process.
Of course, one of the advantages of living today is that modern medicine has created many medicines and treatments for the elderly. When you go to see your doctor, he looks at your last “bloodwork” and can pretty much tell you how your body is doing. After reviewing the numbers and talking with you, they may change your various prescriptions, often recommend more exercise, and then declare you good to go. “for the next 5,000 miles.” It has allowed most of us to live longer, but nothing (including prescription drugs) slows the aging process.
I used to turn away from discussions with my older colleagues when they started talking too much about their aches and pains – I called them “organ” recitals, and they were depressing to listen to. But, I changed my mind a bit.
I think what’s really happening is that older people are talking about their health situation not because they feel sorry for themselves, but because they hope to learn something in the process . They are also concerned about each other and perhaps can learn from and help someone else with the health issues they are facing.
For example, in my experience, people may have more sleep problems as they get older. It may be difficult to fall asleep or sometimes when you wake up in the middle of the night it may be difficult to go back to sleep. When you start talking about such a thing with friends, many people “piping” what their own problems were and how they dealt with them.
Call him senior citizen “sticking” or whatever you want, but it can often be helpful to talk with someone else who has traveled the road you are currently on. Another disease often associated with aging is “silent killer,” high blood pressure. It is good to compare notes with others. Maybe you can find a better solution to your own problems.
I have often said that: “You are your own best doctor.” Your doctor sees 30 or 40 patients a day. You only see one, yourself. You need to stay proactive about your health, and talking with people who have similar issues can be helpful.
Another analogy with a used car would be to compare the problems with the chassis of the car with the human back as it ages. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been helped by people who also had back problems who told me about a new exercise or therapy that had helped them.
One final word – remember this is the only used car you should be driving. You cannot exchange it for a new one. Talking and managing your aches and pains is much better than doing nothing!
Rolland Kidder is a resident of Stow.