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Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

Grumpy Old Man

I’m grumpy.

Maybe it’s me, but lately I seem more irritable. This is not a good thing given we’re entering the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

My mood exudes foulness for various reasons.

First, I’m getting old. At 45 I’m definitely in the middle-age-phase of life. Perhaps I’ve recognized my time is short on this earth. So little things like traffic jams and waiting in line at a retail store check out make my fuse burn faster. Plus, my body is breaking down in areas that mystify me. Twinges in my cervical vertebra; a plantar wart on my right foot thanks to the fitness center shower at work; a sty on my eyelid that refused to go away for months (sounds like I belong in a belltower, doesn’t it?). These medical issues never occurred to the old, young me and if they did, they didn’t last for weeks on end. Apparently reaching 45 also means maladies and conditions that, in many cases, should not be mentioned in writing. Thank God for WebMed.com so I can self-diagnose myself better than my Aunt Martha did back in the ’70s.

Secondly, my gorgeous wife and I are remodeling a bathroom in full DIY mode. We’re both competent, but we’re also learning that days quickly turn to weeks and suddenly the little master bedroom bath project is already a month old and we’re behind schedule. Add to it the war wounds of remodeling – cuts, bruises, sheetrock dust everywhere, and working in a small space with large power tools and only one tiny window for ventilation – and the thought of the project now makes me frown. Fortunately, my wife is my mood counter balancer. We’ve yet to have short words with each other over that little project. We just want to get ‘er done.

The other thing making me angry (at the present moment) is all the Christmas advertising that is invading my space. It’s not yet Thanksgiving, but every retailer in town began airing their TV spots in early November. As if I’m not aging fast enough, the Best Buys and Targets of the world want to rush past Thanksgiving and head long into the Christmas shopping season to make me older, faster. Ummm. No thanks. I’ll wait until after Thanskgiving before I start my Christmas shopping or break out the decorations. Why rush a good thing?

There. Now you know. I’m angry. Don’t cross me.

Or at the very least, don’t ride your brakes in traffic and make me curse you. After all, it’ll be Christmas…soon.

-end-

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Age Defying

I’m showing my age.

At least parts of me are starting to reveal my 40-something-ness. And while my spirit and mental age might be 36.8-years-old (according to results from this test on realage.com), other external signs sing a different tune. I urge you all to take the test, by the way. It’s simple, yet revealing.

Many of you know I’m adopted. I’ve not done a search for either of my birth parents, so my biological history is an unknown. It might be interesting to know what’s in store for me – especially considering the various serious health conditions that I could face, like heart disease and diabetes. But there’s a bit of excitement watching each day unfold not knowing what to expect as well. And as long as I’m taking care of myself, living a healthy lifestyle and getting my share of physical activity on a regular basis, I’m okay letting the chips fall where they may.

Part of the excitement (attention getting change) noted in the paragraph above started to reveal itself a couple years ago. That’s when I first noticed a very, very white eyebrow hair growing from my right brow. Something just didn’t belong. It has reappeared ever since and, more recently, I found a similarly white-ish hair coming from my head. Then, just last month, a white chest hair. Tell tale signs? No one knows, including me. Perhaps in my retirement years I’ll be playing Santa Claus with truly natural all white hair, mustache and beard.

There are other signs as well (I seem a little more jowly and my muscles and joints require more time to recover after strenuous physical activity). I’ll stave off the external and physical changes as long as possible by taking care of the body I’ve been given.

In the meantime, I’ll go with the 36.8 year-old-mantra and act my “real age.” At least until the white hair thing becomes visible to one and all.

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Guys, you know you want to…live as long as possible that is. From the moment we realize we’re not invincible (wait, you have realized you’re mortal, right? It usually happens around the age of 30), we start making attempts to extend our lives.

First we do all we can to stay young. We exercise. We get cool haircuts. We take sideways glances at GQ magazine in the bookstore, looking for ways to dress with style. Admit it, we let a little vanity slip in and we actually think that 50-ish guy in the Corvette convertible doesn’t look bad (except for the double chin and flabby ear lobes).

Next, we turn to late night infomercials and the Web to help us extend our lives. We admire Chuck Norris and his exercise contraption. We go online and search for the magic bullet of health.

There’s good news, my friends. A recent story in The New York Times focused on a study that shows how men can live past 90 and maintain good health along the way – versus simply relying on good genes and good luck.

Here are the five steps researchers found to help men live into our 90s:

  1. Abstain from smoking
  2. Maintain a healthy weight
  3. Control blood pressure
  4. Exercise regularly
  5. Avoid diabetes

Sounds rather easy, don’t you think? AND it makes perfect sense. If you smoke, are fat, have high blood pressure and don’t exercise, you’ll likely get diabetes. And if you get diabetes you’re going to face all kinds of chronic health conditions, which will ultimately kill you.

But if you kick the smoking habit, drop a few pounds, exercise, keep the blood pressure within a normal range, and exercise three days a week you’re going to fend off all kinds of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, various forms of cancer, and more.

We all want to live. But living long and living well are the keys to life people! The last thing I want is to be a 75-year-old, size 42 waist, oxygen dependent, insulin pumping, red-faced bag of bones.

The good news is that I’m already abiding by the five steps that will help me get to 90 and beyond.

Meet me in another 38 years for a game of checkers?

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Like the old oak tree that’s lived a long and healthy life, my Mom turns 87 on Sunday. Since she and Dad divorced in 1984, Mom has lived “down home,” not far from where she grew up as a kid. She’s been surrounded by her brothers and sisters in her senior years. Family means the  most to her and it’s what she needed most of all.

Since my kids were born, we’ve always managed to see Grandma at least once a year even though 700 miles separate us.  I wish it could have been more frequently, but it’s just not been so. My two teenagers know Grandma but they really don’t know her.

In recent years, Mom’s health has steadily declined from the inside out. Small strokes led to clumsy falls and broken bones. Her speech became only thoughts in her mind – unable to spill out coherently. She lost the use of her right arm and other faculties. Things we take for granted became humiliating disabilities to her.

But her heart keeps beating loudly and her will to live each day remains strong.  Like that oak tree, she has shaded and protected her family for the bulk of her life. Her hardest admission with age has been recognizing that she can no longer “do” for those she loves.

In October, Mom will be admitted to a nursing home and my aunt, who has lived with Mom for the past 12 years, fears for the worst. The youngest sister of the siblings, my aunt is 76 and shouldn’t be caring for a woman prone to falling down and who is unable to feed herself. But she has steadfastly been there, refusing to relinquish her concern and desire to take care of her big sister for as long as possible, just as my Mom took care of her little sis back in the 1930s.

That, my friends, is what family is all about. And though my aunt has cried and agonized over this decision that is in all rights overdue, she is doing what is best for my Mom at this late phase in her life.

When I see Mom on her birthday this weekend, I’ll present the usual flowers and birthday card. I’ll open it and read it to her and we’ll smile as her mind slowly pushes the words “Thank you” and “I love you” through her vocal cords. I’ll spend a day or two with her, helping her eat and making her comfortable…doing for her.

She’s touched all of our lives in countless ways, including the unending love she gives us all.

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