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Human Aging: What Happens to Your Body When You Get Old

James Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, historian, and author of three non-fiction books. James enjoys people, music, film, and reading

HOW WE ALL BEGIN

HOW WE ALL BEGIN

Forever Young

When I was thirty years old I was in tremendous shape. I would run on the beach all day long. Forget the six-pack; I had a twelve-pack. I could beat the drums as hard as humanly possible—while singing—for four to five hours at a time.

I clearly remember myself at that age. I remember looking at older people, with their spider veins, varicose veins, hair loss, wrinkled faces, and fat bellies. Somehow I believed that this would never happen to me. I would always be young. I was certain of it.

THEN WE ARE CHILDREN

THEN WE ARE CHILDREN

Our Population is Aging

The average life span in America has increased by four years since 1970. An American of age 65 should live 19 more years. Many people still expect to retire at 65, but they save less of their income than ever before.

Because of easy divorce, more than half of the elderly have no spouse with which to live out their last years, and we have fewer and fewer children as well. Many seem to give not much thought as to how they are going to live out their final days, alone and broke.

This is has serious ramifications now that our entire population is aging. In 1950, those over 65 were a tiny fraction of the American citizenry. Today, they are 20 percent of the populace.

In 1960, 11 percent of Americans were under the age of five and only 1 percent were over eighty. By 2040, there will be as many in the latter group as in the former.

NEXT WE ARE TEENAGERS

NEXT WE ARE TEENAGERS

Geriatric Care Services

Most people don't want to think about their coming decrepitude. Taking care of the elderly is going to be a serious problem. The number of certified geriatricians has fallen by 33 percent in the last six years, and the number of primary care doctors is plummeting. These two groups are the lowest paid doctors. And frankly, most doctors don't want to treat elderly patients.

The most serious threat to the aged is falling. One out of eight elderly people will suffer a serious fall this year. Three hundred and fifty thousand Americans fall and break a hip each year, with 40 percent of them headed straight for the nursing home afterwards; half of those will never walk again. The old lose their sense of balance, their muscles weaken, and their situation is not helped by multiple medications, many of which cause dizziness and dehydration.

One bright spot is that old folks who have visited a geriatric doctor within the last year are 50 percent less likely to develop depression, 33 percent less likely to become disabled, and 40 percent less likely to require home health services. What the geriatricians do is not high-tech medicine. They tend to reduce the number of and quantity of medications; they help control arthritis, stress foot care, plan diets, emphasize home safety, and watch for signs of isolation.

Only three hundred doctors will complete geriatrics training this year, nowhere near the number of geriatricians that will be retiring. As America ages, the demand for them will explode. But the University of Minnesota recently closed their geriatrics division, due to sustained financial losses. Across America, scores of medical centers have closed their geriatrics units. 97 percent of all medical students take no geriatrics training at all.

The work of geriatricians is difficult and unappealing. But the work is highly beneficial to the community. They bolster the resilience of the aged, and enable them to better withstand what comes.

One solution would be to require geriatric training for all primary care physicians; another would be to train nurses. Even a three week course has been shown to greatly benefit doctors and nurses, as to how to recognize and treat the specific problems of the elderly.

WE BECOME YOUNG ADULTS

WE BECOME YOUNG ADULTS

Home Care Services for the Aged

Those who plan ahead can live in a nice retirement community. To move in generally requires an average of ninety thousand dollars cash; and then thirty-two thousand dollars per year until you die. But the average annual income of those over eighty is only $15,000.

50 percent of the elderly spend their entire life-savings and go on Medicaid to survive. The average American will spend more than a year disabled in a nursing home before they pass on. 90 percent of our national health care bill is spent on the last year of life.

Those who save their earnings and work as long as they are able do far better in their latter years than those who don't. It is also of great benefit to maintain a social life, stay active, monitor teeth and bones, maintain your weight, and find a geriatric doctor. Some in their eighties not only continue to live independently, but also to care for a disabled spouse, and to continue to contribute to society.

Married people live longer, live independently longer, and are healthier and happier on average. Having a spouse in old age combats depression, and even a disabled spouse provides a sense of purpose--a way to still be of service in some way to those around you.

Married people can help one another get dressed, take medicine, prepare meals, exercise together, and accompany one another during medical treatments. Rather than a burden, even an ill spouse provides a sense of self worth to a relatively healthy person.

WE SOON REACH FORTY

WE SOON REACH FORTY

Effects of Aging on the Human Body

The risk of a driver over eighty having a fatal car crash is three times higher than that of a teenager. Old folks have poor night vision, as the amount of light reaching the retina decreases by 67 percent.

The aged tire easily, their sense of smell diminishes, their teeth fall out, and their skin dries out. Their sweat glands can't function, which is why the elderly are so susceptible to heat stroke, and exhaustion. Hair grows gray as you run out of the pigment that gives hair its color. Your skin cells lose the ability to clear out waste products, resulting in age spots.

It takes three times longer at eighty than at twenty to read a newspaper--and you will not understand a lot of it. You will not remember reading most of it the next day. You will tell the same stories over and over but not realize it. You will need to focus on only one task at a time, even something you have done thousands of times such as simply getting dressed. You will lose three inches of your height.

Old folks have a hard time swallowing because as you age, your spine tips forward. For you to look straight ahead will be like looking at the ceiling for young people. Try to swallow while looking up and you will see how easy it is to choke on your food this way. You have to learn to eat looking down.

WE REACH MIDDLE AGE

WE REACH MIDDLE AGE

Aging With Dignity

The latest studies show that heredity does not have much influence on longevity, contrary to long-held ideas. Complex systems have to survive and function despite having thousands of critical components. That is why we have an extra lung, kidney, and gonad; and plenty of teeth.

If a cell dies or a gene is damaged, there are others nearby ready to fill in. But as defects in a complex system increase, the time comes when the defects overwhelm the whole organism, and we become frail. It happens to people; and also to companies, cars, and power plants. Too many parts are damaged, redundant systems fail, and we wear down until we can't wear down anymore. The process is gradual and unrelenting. We simply fall apart.

The elderly develop crunchy arteries and veins, because calcium flows out of your bones into your tissues as you age. Your blood vessels narrow and stiffen, forcing your heart to work much harder to maintain blood flow. Because of this, half of us will have high blood pressure by age 65. At the same time, the heart steadily weakens.

Despite all the plastic surgery you would care to endure to fool people into thinking you are actually younger than you are, a dentist can tell how old you are you by examining a single tooth. The white enamel of your teeth is the hardest substance in your body, but with age the softer, darker layers show through, and the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the base, elongating their appearance (especially the lower teeth).

In the course of a lifetime you will lose 40 percent of your jaw muscle mass, causing a shift to softer foods, which are higher in fermentable carbohydrates that cause further tooth decay. By age 60, the average American has lost 1/3 of their teeth.

WE FINALLY GET THE SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT

WE FINALLY GET THE SENIOR CITIZEN DISCOUNT

Why Do We Grow Old and Die?

Why did God make us thus? Why when we grow in knowledge, experience, and wisdom; do our bodies horrifyingly decay around us? Could it be so we will not cling to the vanities of youth? So we will understand that our bodies are temporary housings? And if so, what do we make of the worship of youth?

This is not all there is. The intelligence and character that makes a person a person, lives on, after the body is gone. Perhaps that is where our focus should be.

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Comments

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on June 27, 2011:

Pollyannalana— What a pleasure to see your name in my inbox! I have missed our interaction. I have been focused on finishing my book and haven't been on HubPages much. But I shall return with some new stuff and to read lots of Hubs as soon as I am done with this project.

I am with you in that I was early mature but then stayed at a fairly youthful level for the rest of my days. Only in the last five years have I slowed down to smell the roses.

It's great to hear from you, melady. Thank you for leaving me this note. :-)

Pollyannalana from US on June 27, 2011:

Wow nine months ago and I thought you just wrote it! It is strange it seemed I never felt grown up although I was probably more adult than most my age I just wondered when that day would come and I just knew I would never be old or stop doing things like climbing trees (to hide from my kids, it drove them crazy, lol) and then one day I said, "Hey, when did this happen?" Probably when my daughter turned thirteen.

Great hub.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 06, 2010:

boba020682— Nice to hear from you, my brother! Thank you for your gracious compliments. I love to research things that are interesting to me, and that I hope will be interesting to others. My first new Hub in many moons was just published a few moments ago. Thanks for coming by to visit me, Bob.

James

boba020682 from Silicon Valley on September 06, 2010:

Another really interesting and informative hub James!

Where do you get all of this interesting information?

Not the kind of stuff to make me look forward to further maturation but interesting never the less!

I look forward to your next hub with great eagerness.

May God continue to bless you and keep you writing.

Bob

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 05, 2010:

v_kahleranderson— Thank you very much for your kind comments. I didn't mean to dissuade you from hoping for a long life. Since you are doing the Lord's work, we need you here as long as possible.

You and Bob can repeat your stories—as long as they are good ones!

It is sad that once we figure out what life is all about—it's over! There must be a message in there somewhere. Time to move on up to higher ground?

RevLady's comments are always well worth reading. She is one wise woman.

I am in the middle of the first revision of my original draft of my book. I think it is going well. I do appreciate your prayers, hugs, and love. And you are welcome, VKA. I will be posting a new Hub Tuesday. :D

James

v_kahleranderson from San Jose, California on September 03, 2010:

Great article, Mr. Watkins, but allow me to say that I am no longer excited about living to be 100 years of age. Lol!! Alright, it is still my hope to live to a grand-old age, but with my hubby and me in somewhat decent health. One can only hope and pray, right?

May I also now openly admit to Bob and me often telling the same stories over and over again. I used to think that was funny, but after reading your hub, well, I am not so sure now. Should I be worried? Lol!

Remember that old saying, “If I knew then what I know now…” How sad it really rings today. Seriously, though, my hope and prayer is that when my time comes, the Lord will not leave me to suffer the syndrome of being old for too long. And forget cosmetic surgeries, I am horribly afraid of needles. So, for now, Bob and I exercise regularly, which is the best form of cosmetic surgery, I believe. (I, too, really liked what the RevLady had to say above on the subject of cosmetic surgery!)

As always, James, it has been a pleasure to read one of your hubs. Thank you :)

P.S. We know that you are busy writing your book, and we hope it is moving along well for you, but know that you are greatly missed. Do come back soon.

From my home, here’s keeping you in our prayers, and sending you love and hugs.

VKA

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on July 28, 2010:

newhubfan— I am adamantly opposed to socialized health or in fact socialized anything. The vast majority of Christians share my views. It is not that we want anybody to suffer. Medicare and Medicaid were purported to make medical care more affordable but instead medical care costs are ten times higher than when these programs were launched. The fact is the U.S. government acknowledges waste and fraud in Medicare and Medicaid run about 10%, year after year. One hundred billion dollars a year wasted. Using that same ratio, if we go to socialized medicine, the waste will be nearly Two Trillion Dollars per year. This will bankrupt our nation.

Bureaucracies are by nature inefficient, self-perpetuating entities. Medicare rules alone are 133,000 pages in length. Medicare and Medicaid combined were sold to the public and Congress in 1965 based on a projection that they would cost the taxpayers $4B a year. The budget is now over $600B with unfunded future liabilities of $80,000,000,000,000. That is how successful the government has been so far in managing health care costs. So what do Progressives say about this profound failure? We need more, much more!

Americans on Medicaid and Medicare are constantly subjected to unnecessary tests (which are invasive, painful and dangerous) and unneeded surgeries by the bucketfuls. The reason each of these unnecessary procedures are over-priced is that the government sets the price for half of all health care spending in America now, with over a million set prices for medical care falling under government regulation. Some prices are set too high, resulting in a surplus of those services; and some too low, resulting in a shortage of those services.

Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution enumerates the powers of the Federal government. These powers are primarily to provide a military to defend the country; regulate foreign trade and trade between the states; control immigration; mint money; provide a postal service; and to enforce patent and copyrights. Any powers not enumerated to the Federal government are supposed to belong to the sovereign states that joined the union.

Notably absent from the enumerated federal powers are most of the offices we find in federal government today. There is no constitutional mandate that provides powers for the federal government to be involved in, to provide for, or to regulate education; housing; urban development; community planning; medical care for the old; medical care for the poor; a national retirement pension; agriculture; labor; and surely not to be in the home mortgage business.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and various other welfare programs have much in common: they were designed to redistribute wealth by Progressive Social Liberals; the cost of them was so vastly under-forecast as to reveal an underlying mendacity; they are full of waste, fraud, and corruption; they are bankrupt and are bankrupting our nation.

But the only way this can be fully realized would be through a huge national bureaucracy—unelected, serving for life, and free to make law that they call "regulations"—without the Will of the People enacted through its elected Representatives considered whatsoever. One might think that, in 2009, we have three branches of Government according to the United States Constitution. Think again. The 4th branch, not in our Constitution, is the Bureaucracy, a self-serving and corrupt entity whose motives, objectives, policies, and standards are removed from the authority of the People—an incredible infringement on Liberty. If you fail to realize how powerful the Bureaucracy is, get in the wrong line at the Driver's License Bureau.

The Bureaucracy has now usurped most all Liberty that Americans, before they became helpless sheep, once took for granted. This Bureaucracy employs twenty million people who decide how much Liberty you will have. They decide who can and under what rules all Americans can do almost everything we do.

The reach of this Bureaucracy includes: walking, bicycling, horse riding, driving cars, boating, flying; farming, gardening, eating; building, business, trade, commerce, travel, housing; local education, university education, job training; working, hiring, compensation, benefits, working hours, working conditions; buying, selling, trading, transporting; transfer of funds, inheritance; trucking, highways, railways, waterways; camping; lending, borrowing; use of land, fishing, hunting, mining; use of alcohol, drugs, firearms . . . need I go on? Because I could go on all day. My point is that none of these violations of your individual Liberty existed 100 years ago.

Now Obama wants to create 111 new bureaucracies to deal with health care. The so-called private sector of American health care is better termed the regulated sector. To receive any government reimbursement they must play by the rules imposed by the bureaucracy. Insurance companies are burdened with thousands of state and federal mandates, regarding what services they must supply.

Moral Hazard refers to a psychological phenomenon that teaches us a great moral lesson: most people behave differently when they are insulated from the consequences of their actions. They behave less responsibly and thus leave others with unfair penalties in the aftermath.

Our Declaration of Independence (bookmark that last word in your brain) and Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) have provided us with a set of governing principles intended to leave us as a nation of individuals both politically free and morally responsible. What the Left wants—what they always want—is to make citizens dependent upon the government because this creates a permanent electoral constituency for them. Read that again, please.

To give the government control over this much of our economy amounts to succumbing to the failed political ideology of Central Planning. Central Planning is the centerpiece of Marxism, which has the goal of giving the government complete power over the lives of a formerly self-governing people. It was tried for 80 years in the Soviet Union and was a complete failure, while it robbed the people of all incentive to productivity, efficiency and innovation. Marxism resulted in a miserable standard of living. Even the "poor" in America lived far better than all of those Soviets—except the 5% who were in the government.

We are in a battle over yet another potential huge loss of liberty—the freedom to make our own decisions about our health care. Progressive Social Liberals yearn to give the government the power to decide who lives and who dies. A power that, sooner or later, will be wielded in accordance with one's political views.

Before Medicaid and Medicare there were charity hospitals in large cities, and no one was turned away from medical care for lack of money ever in this country at any hospital. Jesus told you and me to take care of the poor and needy. He never said to have Caesar do it for us.

And I strongly disagree wit your idea that the rich often get that way by immoral means. That is what Karl Marx would have you think. I have known plenty of people from all walks of life and the rich I have known earned their money by motivation, energy, common sense, intelligence, and old fashioned hard work—combined with creative ideas.

newhubfan on July 28, 2010:

James, I've been reading your hubs and you struck me as very wise, until I read above that you don't believe in socialized health care as that robs ppl of their rewards for their efforts. How can you have written so many insightful posts regarding christianity and still say this? We are all Gods children and Christ would not want to see anyone suffer, regardless of the income they were able to generate. Why should lack of money lead to lack of quality of life in old age? Or why should sickness eat away all those savings if you were an "achiever"? I live in Canada so I know about socialized health care. It's not always great, but it's better than watching people waste away and die because they don't have money, while the rich (who often got rich by immoral means) reap the rewards.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on May 27, 2010:

schoolgirlforreal— That is great of you to care for your folks. This life is surely temporary, eternity awaits. You have aches and pains at 34!? That's too young for that.

Thank you for visiting and you are welcome. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

schoolgirlforreal on May 26, 2010:

Hi James

Personally I do respect the elderly- my parents are 82 and 77 and I take care of them alot.

As a Christian I respect life

But back to your hub-

My opinion is that it's ok to get old....but you should enjoy life while you're young

I see this life as temperory--which it is

I look forward to Eternity where we will all be young eternally etc

I am sure I won't like getting old thou. at 34 i already have aches and pains or whatever

Thanks!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 22, 2010:

dreamreachout— Thank you! I would love to visit India someday. I agree with you that having many geneations under one roof is great! I appreciate your remarks and you are most welcome.

dreamreachout on April 22, 2010:

Wonderful hub!! In India, we look after our elderly and this isnt much a problem!! Its lovely to have three generations under the same roof!! magnoliazz suggestion is fabulous for the American society!! James, I had told on your other hub that she is an angel!! Thanks for the hub!!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

magnoliazz— I think your ideas are tremendous. Thank you for thinking out-of-the-box. I hadn't thought of this angle but I could not be more positive about it than I am. Great insights! You are a smart cookie. I appreciate your support, too. I'm going to get over and read more of your fine work on HubPages.

magnoliazz from Wisconsin on April 21, 2010:

Instead for housing old people in nursing homes where they are just more or less waiting to die, we should restructure the way we care for the elderly.

Years ago there were no nursing homes for the elderly, because extended families often lived together under one roof. Grandparents were simply a part of the family until they passed away.

We could get back to that same model by taking care of the elderly in our homes again. Instead of paying 5000.00 a month for a nursing home, we could pay 3000.00 a month to a family for taking care of an elderly patient. Imagine a young woman who wants to stay home and raise her children but has no other option but to work. Now imagine if she could make 3000.00 a month taking care of an elderly grandmother or grandfather, who may even be able to help raise the children.

I think that would help everyone involved! It would also provide a lot of jobs. It could be a win for the patient, a win for the caregiver and a win for Medicare. Just think of the what could be done with that extra money.

Even if the patient involved needed more intense care...(I won't get into details, but you can figure it out)...perhaps an older more mature person would be a good match for that patient. That would be the key, match the patient to the caregiver.

I would appreciate what others think of this idea.

Thanks again James, for a wonderful thought provoking hub! I plan on reading all your hubs!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 21, 2010:

honey's girl— Thank you for saying so. I am grateful to receive your remarks. :D

honey's girl on April 20, 2010:

Truly its a great hub james.very very absorbing.dont hv words to express myself more:)..really u did a great job..

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 10, 2010:

Springboard— Reality is reality if we like it or not, my friend. I haven't planned for old age myself. I guess I thought I wouldn't live to see the day. But here I am. I suppose I have been a lot like your aunt in that regard. This is a great thought to ponder:

"I was never able to convince her that money is harder to come by when you don't have the same ability to go out and get it like you do when you're young."

Thank you for your excellent comments, brother. I appreciate your readership, too.

Springboard from Wisconsin on April 06, 2010:

I'm glad you touched a couple of times in this article about the reality of elderly finances. It's something not enough people really take the time to think about. One of my aunts always lived fairly care free, she always said "what if I die tomorrow?" I'd ask, "what if you live?"

I was never able to convince her that money is harder to come by when you don't have the same ability to go out and get it like you do when you're young, and you point out as well that medical bills can literally eat your checkbook alive.

She's sort of going through that now as she's rolling toward 60 this year and my uncle has dementia and alzheimers, and cannot work. No pensions. Very little savings. Lots of medical bills due to my uncle's condition. And while she works for the post office right now, she's not a regular and she gets laid off frequently.

Very well thought out and informative article James. As for getting old? Well, no thanks to Ponce de Leon we'll all have to do it sooner or later.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 05, 2010:

Lamme— Thank you! I don't feel old in my mind either. I appreciate your readership. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community.

Lamme on April 03, 2010:

Very interesting hub. I'm at that age where the years are starting to take their toll. Funny thing is, I don't feel old in my mind ... just when I look in a mirror ;) I'm off to read more of your hubs!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2010:

kaja_mel— Thank you very much. I hope you do.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2010:

Ictodd1947— You are welcome, my dear. Thank you for the fine compliment and your insightful comments. I agree wholeheartedly with your expressed sentiments. How we live between the dashes. Brilliant!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2010:

Pollyannalana— Thank you for sharing your heartfelt comments about your honest Mamaw. That is exactly what everybody called my paternal grandmother. :-)

I enjoy gazing upon a beautiful woman as much as the next man, but there is so much more to a human being than only that. I enjoyed reading your words.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 02, 2010:

Rosalie Koslof— Thank you very much for the kind compliments. I agree that the more holistic approach to healing will benefit the Baby Boomers. I appreciate you bringing that to the fore. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on April 01, 2010:

jesusmyjoy— Thank you! Thank you very much.

kaja_mel from Saraland, AL on March 31, 2010:

Great article, plan to read more.

Linda Todd from Charleston on March 31, 2010:

I just made it to this post...I guess cause I have aged since I read your last one..hee hee.... This is wonderfully true. I look back to when I was 50. I did not think about ten years from then and how my life might be. Career...many things that actually were not worth the time that I spent dwelling on the material things of life. I always remember my "Maker" but being having something was really important as we put so much into having things and looking good. I used moisture cream so much trying to help what I thought was dry skin...now I have things under my skin that the Dermatologist can do nothing about...it is useless to put so much emphasis on how we look..you are right.

When we are gone and the stone is place on our grave; it will not be about the name, how we look, what we wear or who we know, but it is how we lived the dash between the dates....

You are go good at this....thank you for sharing.

Pollyannalana from US on March 31, 2010:

It is just as you say and probably with all of us, we will be the exception, we can never be old and look like that, I even had the nerve to ask my Mamaw I have written much about when she talked about how beautiful I was if it made her jealous to look at young women after growing old (she understood my million and one questions,,so)and she admitted it did and that it hurt losing your looks and from then on I understood more each day, she only lived to be 65 after having thirteen children and a dozen serious surgeries. I wish there was some way to let all see looks are the least of life, for happiness at least. But I fear a book will always be judged by its cover, and is a very bad thing in so many directions.

Rosalie Koslof on March 31, 2010:

This is a great article about aging and the way aging is today. I do believe we may be overlooking the fact that the aging baby boomer generation will use more alternative medicine than the other older generations and will stay healthier for longer. This may actually decrease the need for more nursing home care and other more expensive care.

Betty Bolden from Bucyrus Ohio on March 31, 2010:

wonderful hub my friend

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 30, 2010:

goodgrant— Thank you! Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work. I enjoyed your remarks, especially this timeless truth:

"our happiness comes from being involved with other people, at any stage in our lives."

Welcome to HubPages.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 30, 2010:

charanjeet kaur— I am glad you came by to visit my humble little Hub. And I am grateful that it was featured by HubPages.

Thank you so much for your wonderful accolades. I am well pleased to receive your affirmation.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 30, 2010:

Gigi2— You're welcome. Thank you for the kind compliment. I enjoyed the Franklin quote and reading your comments. Welcome to HubPages.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 30, 2010:

mhuze— You are welcome. Thanks for the visit and the comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 30, 2010:

Polly C— Thank you. Sorry about the depressiveness. I thik the retirement age here may be pushed, or at least strongly encouraged, up to 70. I surely agree with you that having children and grandchildren is a great boon for older people. Many live vocariously through their descendants—I don't mean that in a bad or shallow way but in a good way. They have a lot to be engaged in and can offer wise counsel, which makes one more useful. That is a great point you made right there.

Thank you for reading my article and lending your keen insight to the proceedings. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

goodgrant from Mississauga on March 30, 2010:

Really great hub. I'm 40 years old and just beginning to feel my age. The quality of life for older folks is thought to be better than it was. But your comments show that while we've made advancements in knowledge, overall quality of life may not necesssaliy be better. People have less family and friends than they used to have in their lives. I guess our happiness comes from being involved with other people, at any stage in our lives.

charanjeet kaur from Delhi on March 29, 2010:

James I am so glad to have bumped into this hub from the featured hubs section on the first page. It indeed is difficult to keep up with checking out hubs.

Wow another feather in your cap, love it, love it. I sometimes admire the talent you have how do you get ideas for the hubs you write. Exceptional and thoughtprovoking writing indeed. I loved the conclusion that when we are gaining wisdom our bodies give up. Lovely interpretation of the way our body works. One more thing I loved is the use of pictures, they are just tailormade for this hub. Cheers for such a wise choice indeed. Rated it up.

Gigi2 from UK on March 29, 2010:

Great hub, really enjoyed it, thanks. As I get older I'm not entirely sure I get that much wiser, just enough to stay ahead of the kids....hah who am I kidding...lol

Life's tradgedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late. ~

Benjamin Franklin

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 29, 2010:

drpastorcarlotta— It's great to see you here! I enjoyed reading your comments, especially:

"To grow old is not to have died young. . . . That's why when your young, you should take care of yourself."

Yes, doctor pastor. That is right.

mhuze from USA on March 29, 2010:

I believe age is just a state of mind. You're as old as you feel kinda thing.

Enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 29, 2010:

garynew— Yesss!! I saw that on page 2241. I think that is great news.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 29, 2010:

Lorraine Arams— I am glad to hear it! I think I am 15.

I love the story of that very special woman. She is a great example for all of us to follow. Thank you for sharing her terrific tale with us. It is very good.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 29, 2010:

always exploring— I like your philosophy. Thank you for leaving your point of view. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 29, 2010:

GojiJuiceGoodness— That last picture is a doozy. Thanks for coming!

Polly C from UK on March 29, 2010:

Great Hub, though a little depressing! Of course we have to age and die otherwise humanity could not really survive and certainly wouldn't be the same.

In the UK there is an ageing population as well. Already they are talking about people retiring later - 67, I think, instead of 65. This ageing population will not be able to be funded as there will not be sufficient younger people in the workforce.

You talk about older people with a spouse being happier, and of course this is true. I would also like to add that having your own children, thus hopefully ending up with grandchildren and great children, is possibly even more important. In my family, the women have outlived their husbands by many, many years. My grandmother was widowed for nearly 20 years and passed away at nearly 98. I believe her family kept her happy and young (in mind). She was always so interested in learning what my child (her great grandchild) was getting up to. It is different with people in our family who did not have children. One of my great aunts is now 97, almost the same age, and yet she complains of age and is seemingly quite depressed. Ditto to the great aunt on my partners side with no children - age related problems made her depressed even though she is still married. The last time we saw her she got into a state about she 'does not ask to live' - and this in front of my eight year old son, which was not great.

I come to the conclusion that even with physical problems related to ageing, having contact and a good relationship with your own children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can still give you a zest for life even in old age.

Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC on March 28, 2010:

To grow old is not to have died young. I love aging and doing the little different things to make my appearance more better. That's why when your young, you should take care of yourself. This Hub did make me think about when I was younger but as one Fan said: They had did more things in the last 10 years than they have every did in their whole life. This is the same for myself. All in the name of JESUS!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

Kebennett1— I know you have endured a very rough time in your life. I do empathize with you, my dear. I'm going to pray for you right now.

Thank you for coming to visit and for leaving your heavy words here.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

Moonchild60— Thank you. I hope your sister is around when I need her. :-)

I appreciate this visitation, my dear. It's always a pleasure to see you.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

lovelypaper— I am glad you enjoyed this Hub. And I am well pleased that you treat the aged so kindly. It's great to see you here. Thank you!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

Peggy W— What a pleasure to hear from you again! I enjoyed reading your words here. Thank you for coming and commenting. I'm glad you have your teeth! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

anjalichugh— Ornamentation. I like that! Thank you for the laudatory remarks, my dear. I just love that video. Isn't it great? I appreciate your lovely soul.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

Angela Blair— Thank you, Sis, for chiming in with your excellent comments. Yes, we need hope in order to carry on—or dreams. It looks as though you are still going strong. One thing is for sure: your mind is very sharp. I appreciate your ongoing support, my dear.

James

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 28, 2010:

Allan McGregor— They say a man's mind is the second thing to go.:D

Really? The very old were the most healthy? Who would have thunk it? You wrote:

"It seems to be that the more obsessed we become with our health, the more unhealthy we become, which I think points to the dangers of 'health anxiety'."

That is an amazing idea. I never would have thought of it that way.

"we are all supposed to live to at least 120. The old 'threescore and ten', is a misapplication of Psalm 90:10"

Really. I had no idea about this, either. You continue to enlighten my mind. Thank you very much, my brother.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

Mamelody— No, I'm not one of those. The secret is . . . think, act, and be young. Love everybody. And show it. Thanks and you're welcome.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

cristina327— You are welcome. Thank you for the compliments, dear. I love what you said:

"God allows us to age in order that we will be cautioned about the brevity of life and to remind us that we should never put confidence upon our own strength. We can still enjoy old life as long as the presence of God is with us in our old age."

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

dara— Long time no see. :-)

I echo your thoughts:

"Life is stunning and profound and I, for one, feel lucky to be here. At the same time: there is that one thing...we all know the end of the plot."

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

dara— Hello my friend! I got your CDs and I am going to put out a Hub about you in a few days! :D

The deeper you dig the deeper it gets. You are right. We only know most facets and stages of life by experiencing them for ourselves.

Thanks much for coming.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

DeBorrah K. Ogans— You are truly welcome, my dear. Thank you for the laudations. I must quote some of your wise words:

"God’s Word is vitally important to our wellbeing. He has created us and knows when our lives on this side will expire regardless how young or old we are. We cannot totally disregard what He has to say and expect to live the best life possible! After all He is our Creator and knows what is best!"

Amen!

"I believe that we should respect the gift of life no matter what the age. It is not easy seeing those we love decline… it is also a reminder for us to spend the time we have left on this side of heaven vigilantly pursuing our God given purpose"

I agree with you wholeheartedly.

garynew from Dallas, TX and Sampran, Thailand on March 27, 2010:

Now that healthcare has passed, we will all be immortal!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

screation— Thanks for providing that link.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 27, 2010:

Richard Armen— That is my understanding. Thanks for swinging by and leaving your comment.

Lorraine Arams on March 27, 2010:

I've decided I'll never be old!

I worked with senior citizens in a seniors activity centre for a few years - they taught me that you're only as old as you think you are!

One of the friendships I developed was with an 80+ woman - she lived on her own, walked miles every day, swam every other day, took aerobic classes, sang in the choir, helped other seniors, wrote at book at 83 followed and 2 more after that, and she was in high demand as a volunteer! She entertained at home regularly - luncheons, dinners, parties - and she did all the prep and set up too!

This woman was very bright, cheerful, enthusiastic despite the fact she had arthritis in her spine, deteriorating discs and an eye problem - she taught me that old is a state of mind no matter what your body is doing!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 27, 2010:

Hello James.

The way i see aging is quite simple

you either grow old or you die

i choose aging.

GojiJuiceGoodness from Roanoke, Virginia on March 27, 2010:

Great hub! I like the last picture!! :D

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on March 27, 2010:

James, What can I say. I just turned 48 my health is not very good anymore, I had to put my mother in a Retirement Villa in early January she is 70. It cost me $1200.00 a month. She is in poor health and I can't care for her anymore since my health is poor. I just buried my father in late January, he was 72 and in poor health. I cared for him at home until he was hospitalized on Thanksgiving Day and passed away in the hospital in January. Age did not use to bother me at all, lately it depresses me. Better said, age and bad health depress me. Your article was good though and informative.

Moonchild60 on March 27, 2010:

This is a great Hub James. Sad too. My sister is a CNA, she became one specifically to take care of the elderly. She has always loved the elderly and is wonderful with them. Always treating them with great love and respect. I wouldn't be so afraid to grow old in this country (which I plan on doing slowly and gracefully), if there would be more people like my sister around.

This hub was a bit scarey James. Like telling people what to expect or reminding them anyway about whats coming. Maybe thats a good thing. That way we will all appreciate this day a little bit more. : )

Renee S from Virginia on March 27, 2010:

I really enjoyed this hub. I treat elderly people very kindly and have a special place in my heart for them. I will be old one day and hope to be treated with respect and compassion.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 26, 2010:

Thought provoking hub, James. Since I am a few years older than you I am happy to learn that I have beaten the statistics of losing teeth. Still have all of mine except two wisdom teeth. Oops! Hope too much wisdom was not extracted!

Seriously...good hub. Yes, we need more geriatric and family practice doctors as our population ages.

In the meantime...I plan to enjoy my graying hair and wrinkles. :-)

anjalichugh from New York on March 26, 2010:

Excellent ornamentation of words and thoughts! I'm running short of words James. I think I better stop calling you a fabulous writer as thats an established fact now. I'll try to come up with something new next time. Where did you find that video? It was so apt and summarized the entire hub in one minute. Great selection. Thumbs up!

Angela Blair from Central Texas on March 26, 2010:

What a right on and exceptional Hub, James. I never even dreamed about being 70 years old and then suddenly I was there. Perhaps one's dreams become more short-range after 70 but without them there's no reason to go on. Yep, the body goes south but life can remain interesting and even intriguing in old age if one expects it to be so. Perhaps it's as my brother says, "aging, like everything else, is a matter of attitude and timing!" Best, Sis

Allan McGregor from South Lanarkshire on March 26, 2010:

It's said there are three conclusive signs of impending old age. The first is memory loss, and I forget the other two...

Seriously though, as nurse I worked with many elderly people and it was notable that the very old tended to be the most healthy.

If you think about it, this is logical because only the most healthy made it into their 90s and 100s. The decrepit had long since fallen by the wayside.

A recent BBC 'Horizon' documentary featured a study of centenarian New York Jews. Jews were chosen because of their racial cohesion so as to discount extraneous genetic factors and what they found was extraordinary.

Many were clinically obese and a significant number even smoked up to 40-a-day, and few followed any regular exercise regime. But the one thing that most had in common was a marked disinterest in their health.

It seems to be that the more obsessed we become with our health, the more unhealthy we become, which I think points to the dangers of 'health anxiety'. This is theologically consistent with the teachings of the apostle Paul that sin and condemnation are occasioned by the law. How ironic then that the fundamental benefits of 'grace consciousness' should be most apparent among a group of Jews.

In any case, Biblically, we are all supposed to live to at least 120. The old 'threescore and ten', is a misapplication of Psalm 90:10 which was written by Moses and lamented God's punishment of Israel in the Wilderness where he shortened their years, forbidding any over the age of twenty (except for Joshua and Caleb) to enter the Promised Land.

A lifespan of 70 or 80 years is therefore regarded as a punishment.

Mamelody on March 26, 2010:

you're 55?? you must tell me the secret to you looking so young and handsome. I hope you ain't one of them guys that drink the blood of virgins to look forever young!! I am a samba queen yes thank you!

Cristine Santander from Manila on March 26, 2010:

Great work for this one. Truly aging is inevitable in life, but we can age gracefully if we hold on to the promises of God. God allows us to age in order that we will be cautioned about the brevity of life and to remind us that we should never put confidence upon our own strength. We can still enjoy old life as long as the presence of God is with us in our old age. Thank you for sharing this great article about life's reality. Remain blessed.

dara on March 26, 2010:

Life is stunning and profound and I,for one, feel lucky to be here. At the same time: there is that one thing...we all know the end of the plot.

dara on March 26, 2010:

Well(and what a deep one it is) I have to say... I did not enjoy this hub nor do I enjoy getting old. At the same time I do love the wisdom and insight one can gain with experience. Go figure..... or so goes the paradox.

But, what I find most interesting is how we can experience getting old only by being there. In other words: we do not know what it is like until we get there. Dude. La la la.

DeBorrah K Ogans on March 26, 2010:

James A Watkins, Very educationally informative article on aging! What excellent data you have gathered here! You are “Point on!” You have certainly given us much to think about!

There is something I so love about the very young and the old! Babies are a fresh slate from heaven. Children are open to discover what life is all about? The old are on their last hurrah and I think there is much knowledge they can transfer to those before them as they approach the doorway to heaven! I think that we should be the best at whatever age we are!

God’s Word is vitally important to our wellbeing. He has created us and knows when our lives on this side will expire regardless how young or old we are. We cannot totally disregard what He has to say and expect to live the best life possible! After all He is our Creator and knows what is best! There is always room for improvement! In His Word we can find instructions for a disciplined healthy life as well as encouragement… The Word has many illustrations of age defying examples. Sarah bore a child beyond the age of conception, and when Moses went to glory “Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone...”

I think the body is a wonderful, beautiful yet temporary creation of the Lord ! It is amazing how the body functions in its complex multiplicity of ways. However it merely serves to house the essence of who we truly are! Our spirit is the part that lives on eternally! Yes it decays and returns to the dust, aging is inevitable… I believe that we should respect the gift of life no matter what the age. It is not easy seeing those we love decline… it is also a reminder for us to spend the time we have left on this side of heaven vigilantly pursuing our God given purpose, subscribing to less turmoil and conflict that many consciously choose. Knowing and trusting that He will “supply all of our needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus!” , as well as some perishable comforts and trinkets that are only to accommodate us on this side of heaven.

Beautiful job! Thank you as always for sharing Professor, marvelous lesson! In His love & Blessings!

screation on March 26, 2010:

great information.

Defy age with ayurveda https://hubpages.com/health/Defy-age-with-ayurveda

Richard Armen on March 26, 2010:

I never realized that you lose so much jaw muscle mass.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 26, 2010:

loveofnight— You're welcome. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 26, 2010:

Mamelody— That is a funny photo. I felt a bit of levity might be good at the end of this depressing article. Thank you very much for your kind comments. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. You look like a queen! :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 26, 2010:

nadp— Nice hat! Thank you. I am well pleased that you found it interesting. I hear you. When I was young I could not comprehend the finiteness of this life. I do now, at 55. There is truly Hope. I enjoyed reading your words. Welcome to HubPages!

Loveofnigjht Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on March 25, 2010:

very informative......thx 4 share

Mamelody on March 25, 2010:

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I can't stop laughing at that last photo of the old lady. I know I'll get old one day but not that old! I'm sure even if I reach 100 I won't look that hideous hahahahaha.. But for me I embrace older age and take it as it comes. Very nice hub James xx

nadp from WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA on March 25, 2010:

Hi James - this was a really interesting hub. I am 58 and have experienced such a change in my perspective in the last few years. For the first time I find that I truly understand what it means when we say our life is finite. I find it very scary. And reading about the ageing process does make it scarier. But I loved your thought at the end about what is left when the body is gone. That is such a hopeful thought.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

nancy_30— You are surely welcome, my dear. I agree with your strategy. HubPages helps me keep my mind sharp at least. The other day, I actually went outside. I saw the sun, the clouds, trees, people, and blue skies. I had forgotten all that was out there.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

ladyjane1— You!? I had to drink to write this! I am actually a lot of fun. I don't talk this way on dates. :D

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

JannyC— I'm glad you did. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

jill of alltrades— Thank you very much! I was hoping someone would mention that video. What a ride! I do hope we both go gracefully. :-)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

parrster— You are welcome. Thank you for the compliments. :)

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

peacenhim— As the shadows lengthen, it is hard to be enthused. We can make more money, make more things, even make more love; but we cannot make more time. As you say:

"This is why it is so important to store up treasure for ourselves in heaven, where moths and rust don't destroy and thieves don't break in and steal."

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

ArchDynamics— ¢ I have learned a lot from you, brother. Thank you for the ongoing enlightenment. I do appreciate you as a gentleman and a scholar.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

amillar— I think it does help—a bit. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Your Hubs are very interesting.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

prettydarkhorse— You are welcome, Maita. Thank you for coming! I agree with the Asian idea of showing the utmost repsect for our elders—especially the closer I get to being one! :-)

You are also right that many societies are committing demographic suicide.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

GusTheRedneck— I do sometimes get a chilly reception but mostly warm winds blow my way.

Thank you reading and commenting, Gus. Don't over exert yourself, my friend. Maybe your parts will last longer with your strategy! :D

James

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

Green Lotus— Thank you, dear. I agree with you that we seriously lack enough people with geriatric training. I love your words here:

"At least most of us still have the power to choose a healthy lifestyle. Eating right, staying mentally active and exercising is my formula for living a longer, happier, healthier life."

Yes.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

itakins— I share your views. Thank you for the compliment.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

Mystique1957— Thank you very much, Al. I appreciate you for taking care of grandma. God Bless You.

James

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

stars439— Thank you for your compliments. I appreciate your ongoing encouragement.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

drbj— I truly believe that Congress should be made to suffer under the same health care system as everybody else—if they insist on socializing medicine. Rationing will surely be the result. Since 90% of our nation's health care costs are in the last year of life, this is where the great savings can be found. The way it is now, those who have been useful to society, saved or invested their money wisely, surely can afford better health care during that last year. This is what Socialists want to abolish. They want a great leveling of society, to where everybody suffers equaling. This robs achievers of the rewards for their efforts.

James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on March 25, 2010:

Cinderella1248--- Maybe it is too dark. Perhaps a shot across the bow for those in denial. I agree with you that doing what one loves—having a passion in life—definitely helps keep one active and more youthful.