For most of us getting old is more or less inevitable as we reach middle age or beyond. In April I will turn 79 and it doesn’t seem possible.
If any readers have kept an old car beyond the normal few years, you are well-acquainted with the symptoms of an aging car: Something quits working. Maybe it’s the windshield wipers, and hopefully that doesn’t happen during a rainstorm. Or maybe it’s a fuel pump or the battery goes dead. It seems like we are always running to the car parts store or the salvage yard, but if we love that old car, we do what it takes. Similarly, our bodies are subject to wear and tear. Throughout our lives we should all have a family physician we see on a regular basis. Checkups are highly desirable, even for young people, and we should all be getting them. Finding a health issue before it becomes a major problem gives us a much better chance of treating it early.
I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but we shouldn’t smoke. Many of us started doing that before we knew better and had the habit by the time we did. I can testify that quitting smoking is not easy. I did it about 40 years ago and probably extended my life by quite a few years in so doing.
Physical activity is essential. Whether it’s keeping up the house and yard or a program of physical exercise or just walking, it keeps our bodies working better. I have begun a walking program targeting 10K Psteps a day—and most days I do more. This has proven helpful for muscle tone and weight control. Regular trips to the gym might be a better alternative for many people, but there’s a lot we can do right at home. It’s important to do something.
What else can we do? I graduated from college in 1965, but my Air Force years taught me that smart people stay smart and get smarter by continuing to learn. I try to learn new skills. I read a lot. I try to alternate nonfiction and fiction to balance learning and entertainment.
The important thing is to keep living and live actively. A year from now I will be facing my 80th birthday, and I plan to celebrate (sensibly).
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.