In modern societies life expectancy is well into the 80’s and many of us baby boomers will live beyond that. Throughout most of my adult life I’ve had very few medical issues beyond the usual colds and flu. But after turning 60, I feel like the warranty expired on my body. Not that anything major is wrong. I’m still alive and kicking but I am dealing with several small but annoying issues and monitoring some potential major ones. The big ones are not much of a concern because my family history shows them to be part of our deal, but never really serious. It’s the minor ones and the monitoring that is troubling.
For most of my life I would see a doctor once a year or less. The one trip would be for a physical and aside from my weight, they pronounced me healthy. For my 60th physical they did a PSA test (prostate) that showed a higher than normal number. In the end, I found that a large prostate is a genetic normality and not cause for concern. But the process of discovery was lengthy, really troublesome and scary at times.
As part of our retirement plan, we moved from Massachusetts to Florida. One concern was the quality of medical care since Boston has some of the best hospitals on earth. I have found that the Florida medical practices focus on older people and they have been better at dealing with the aging issues than my GP up north. During my latest physical, the doctor discovered that my thyroid was not doing its thing. I needed to begin taking the enzyme that it was supposed to be producing. I didn’t realize that the joint pain and skin sensitivity was all related to the reduction in my thyroid’s production of the enzyme. Getting older is a new experience for me, but common place for the doctors in this area. My parents are still living in Massachusetts and with some effort finding good medical support. But it’s more of an effort for them.
Part of my weekly routine includes an exercise regimen. Its tennis 3 mornings a week and a class at the YMCA one evening a week. Not only does that schedule keep the body ticking along, it gives me a cadence that keeps the days in order. These activities have helped me to meet people and make friends in a brand new environment as well. Pushing the body physically, mentally and socially on a regular basis is an important element in maintaining your health.
Part of me feels petty for even complaining about these minor issues. At least I’m around to experience them. I’ve lost friends to cancer and co-workers to terrorists. But aging is a strange process with many subtle hazards. To maintain a good quality of life, it’s important to work at good health as part of your daily life. Find some activities that are both good exercise and fun. Get good doctors to stay on top of the annoying issues that go along with an aging body. Putting up with the appointments, prodding and probing just goes with the territory. Accept aging for what it is and appreciate the opportunity to experience it.