The apocryphal tale goes as follows: An older man saw his doc. He complained about his left knee. The frustrated physician said: “Do you not know that at your age, most people expect aches and pains like this?”
Answered the wise gent seated in the patient’s chair: “Now look here, doctor, my right knee is just as old and it doesn’t hurt!”
There you have it. Good health in one knee and an acting up in the other one. Know what that is like?
However, the myth is that age equals bad health. Truth is just the opposite. Half of those 75 to 84 are free of health problems that require special care or that cut through their activities.
Sociologist Berniuce Neugarten of Northwestern University states: “Even in the very oldest group, those above 85, more than one-third report no limitation due to health.”
Dr. Richard Besdine of the University of Connecticut says: “Aging doesn’t necessarily mean a life that is sick, senile, sexless, spent or sessile.”
Dr. John Rose, director of the division on aging at Harvard Medical School, says that “the new focus is not on life-span but on health-span.”
More attention is given to being fit, staying healthy, being nutrition-conscious, exercising, having an enthusiastic outlook, taking vitamins, heeding the latest medical advice, sharing this information with others.
Of course, medical professionals have recommended that older people follow strong recommendations to stay fit: keep out of the sun, cut back on drinking and stop smoking. Further, it is never too late to start good health habits.
It is also wise to keep a sound diet: stay away from foods rich in cholesterol or saturated fat. Eat plenty of fish and chicken. Eat foods with lots of high-fiber, such as whole-grain cereals and many fruits. Eat foods rich in vitamins A and C.
Exercise is at the top of the list. Walking is best. Keeping the body moving is keeping heart and lungs healthy. It also reduces anxiety. Physiologist William Evans of the United States Department of Agriculture — Tufts University center on aging says: “There is no group in our population that can benefit more from exercise than senior citizens. For a young person, exercise can increase physical function by perhaps l0%. But in an old person you can increase it by 50%.”
That is good news!
Carole Mayhall warns against becoming a “pouch potato.” She defines such a creature as “a couch potato with a paunch.” Terrific terminology! Insightful language!
II Corinthians 4:16-18 encourages us: “We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed, day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Such a passage helps the senior believer keep a reasonable balance between dealing with illness and thanking God for health and life itself. Every age has its drawbacks. Each year we live we are wrestling with something related to the physical body and the mind. However, in the consecrated life, God is at work through it all.
Therefore, the Christian understands that he is to be a good steward of the body temple God has provided. Having done that, he resigns all else to the Lord. There are divine designs at work that no eye can see — not even the doctor’s.