A reader wrote to me to ask
Is it really worth it to live to 100 years?
Today, anyone under 60 will most likely live past 80 and will do so in the knowledge that they are generally a button away from getting help if needed
What can you do if you make it to 80?
Well, if your brain and heart are in relatively good condition, you will be surprised to know that you will feel about 40, or even less
If you want to make it to 80, my advice is to go for it
You will not be short of company
Several people have commented about their elderly relatives who suffer from illness and loneliness.
It has been suggested that more people die of loneliness than illness, but worse, many who suffer from loneliness are neither ill nor old
Here was one of my other reader’s response:
I shall be 87 next month
I am totally deaf, partially blind, and can only read books with difficulty, so it is many years since I read a book, though I can read a computer screen easily
I’m very much overweight, and take pills daily, which I will do for life
Problems with legs and lungs make me largely housebound
I live alone, apart from my cat, but I am lucky in so far as I can look after myself Most of the friends of my generation are gone, and several are severely ill or have dementia, but also several others of my generation are still working
To some extent, it is the gene lottery that keeps one going though not always. My father was ill all his life, and died at 43
He, like my mother, could not swim or ride a bicycle
I could do both, as of course, could every one of my generation
Both of my grandfathers were illiterate
My mother and father could read, but neither ever read a book
There were no books in the house other than those I got myself
My mother had two stillborn children prior to myself, and told me that I was a sickly child, so it would seem that neither nurture or Nature favored me
So what is it that keeps one going into old age?
In my case it was largely the Times one was born in
My grandparents born in the 1870–80’s London were poor
They worked full time as young teenagers, so denied an education
My parents born in 1900, were slightly better off, but as young teenagers were caught up in the 1914–18 war and later the Great Depression. They had few choices in life, and simply accepted that surviving was meeting the battles of the day
My generation – 1930’s – were again better off, but there were few people I knew who owned a phone or a car, and even a radio was a luxury, but we did have one thing; WW2
Yes, WW2 had its downsides, but it did provide free travel, and a wide range of opportunities to be educated, and meet people if you were in the military, and if not, work was plentiful.
My mother who had earned a pitiful living as a house cleaner before the war, was now a machine operator in a wartime munitions factory, and getting relatively good money
Wartime, for my generation who are now in the ’70–’90s, had to look after themselves. Not so much in the USA, quite a bit in the UK, and totally in war-torn Europe
There was a great sense of purpose that a ‘World fit for heroes’ might exist, though not quite
Every technological advancement took away a minor joy. The electric toaster took away the joy of using a toasting fork to make toast in front of an open coal fire that you stared into, as if hypnotized as the coal burnt and created shapes.
The toast would be covered in a homemade jam. One felt safe in such surroundings
When my mother made an apple pie, I saw her make the dough, roll it out, peel the apples, stoke the cast iron stove, boil the custard, lay the table, poke the pie with a knife to see if it was cooked, then deliver it triumphantly straight from the oven to us as we waited in anticipation
On first taste, we look at her and say ‘It’s delicious, can I have a second helping’. She would smile. It was her way of saying ‘I love you all’, and our way of saying ‘We know you do’
Technology has given us microwave ovens, precooked pies, and tinned custard, but there is one ingredient that has been left out. Other people
This reminds me of an old joke.
A man visits a doctor, asking how he can live till 100. The doctor asks him if he smokes. “Occasionally,” the man replies. “Well that’s got to stop,” adds the doctor.
“Do you drink alcohol?” the doctor continues. “Well, yes, from time time…” The doctor shakes his head. “That will have to stop too”.
“Do you eat fast food?” inquires the doctor, to which the man replies that he does. Again, the doctor tells him it needs to stop.
Finally, the doctor asks him if he exercises. “Well, sometimes…” the man starts, “but doctor, are you sure this will make me live for a long time?”
“No,” says the doctor, “but it will sure feel like it.”
My point is that, beyond genetics, there is a lot at play. If your relative took a walk after every meal, it probably helped. But was that meal a Big Mac Super Large meal? I’m guessing not.
Did she drink like the local bar regulars? Unlikely.
Finally, did she have close friends and family? Because that is said to play a part too…
You often find that people who focus on one healthy thing actually have a range of healthy habits too.
Chaim Yankel’s Freebees
After trying a new shampoo for the first time, Chaim Yankel fired off an enthusiastic letter of approval to the manufacturer.
Several weeks later, he came home to a large carton in the middle of the floor. Inside were free samples of the many products the company produced: soaps, detergents, toothpaste, and paper items.
“Well, what do you think?” Chaim Yankel’s wife asked, smiling.
“Next time,” he replied, “I’m writing to General Motors!”