Thursday, July 13, 2017

One way we are different

One way to tell we are different: we are younger at older ages.  You may have heard that 70 is the new 40 or 50, meaning that 70 year olds are (physically, mentally, emotionally) like 40 or 50 yr olds used to be.  Many of my older friends start to recall a past event and they begin to estimate how many years ago the event took place.  They nearly always have to increase the number of years since the event over their first estimate: "That must have been 20, no, 40, no, fifty years ago."

It seems to me that many of us don't feel old enough to have been living here or married or working here or reading Time magazine for that long.  Maybe we never heard older people while growing up use numbers like 50 or 60 years.  We may carry in our heads the feeling that 20 years is a long period so before calculating, we might just guess whatever it was, it was a long time, like 20 years.  Then, our heads supply the starting date and the current year and then the difference.

No, it was 47 years.  Can that be right?  It sounds like a whole geological era.  We aren't that old, it hasn't been that long, has it? It can't have been that long.

Without instruments and records, we probably aren't built to estimate longer times very well.  In addition, a 90 year old stated that she didn't feel any noticeable difference from what she felt at 30.  Sure, not being able to read the fine print, not hearing what the young teen said, not looking at another flight of stairs very happily - such things can make a person feel as though they aren't that young any more.  But without those tip-offs, and without a mirror, a person can feel as though they haven't changed.  Well, within reason.  We adults all know that we are no longer toddlers, or little kids. Many people say that regardless of their chronological age, they feel like a young adult.  If you participated in athletics or cheerleading or dance in high school or college, you may have experienced more cramps and sore muscles back then than since.

I know you will hear that people are living longer, that you don't look your age, that age is only a number and such.  I don't see how anyone can deny that age is indicative, not only of health and likely lifetime left, but even the frame of mind a person grew up with.  Still, with the limitations and changes, it is quite possible that both your mind and your body are in better shape than your grandmother's was at this age.

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