Thursday, July 18, 2024

Pangs of ageing

Musings by Shekhar Nambiar

Just read that one of the pangs, notwithstanding the many joys of ageing, is ‘getting out of taxis.” Yes, something as seemingly innocuous as that.

Yet, I am not entirely in agreement with it. Why, because I have had a bad back for close to 20 years now. A slipped disc – the result of an injury while exercising not in a gym but under the wide-open sky – had me confined to bed for close to six weeks, until nothing short of a miracle made me walk straight again.

The miracle recovery from a potentiallypermanent debilitating state, as mychiropractor put it, has not made me any wiser. I continue to exert myself to the point of having the nagging, shooting pain trouble me every now and then.

These short-lived pangs have not come in the way of enjoying the fruits of age.

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Ageing signs

I do not believe that age is just a number. It is not. Age does bring change. Mental and physical, sometimes unknown to you, but most profoundly transformational.

The creaking bones, ascribed to aches and pains of the muscles and joints, are but mere initial signs that make you sit up and wonder. The obvious telltale signs are the pace of the walk and gait.

Some are fortunate not to get into mental depression, which can also be the forerunner to Alzheimer’s. Fear not, for there’s a way out! Engage yourself and keep busy. Easier said than done, some might say.

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Niggling health issues

The biggest thing is the so-called surprise element. To most, the aging process can be gradual, less obvious, even make them be in denial. For others, the process could manifest itself through health issues, some more serious than others, but the more obvious, common ones are vision and hearing loss, joint pains and such other niggling problems.

There is increasing evidence – from real-life incidences of sudden death, cardiac arrest or such other serious medical and debilitating conditions – to show that keeping busy and being creatively engaged can delay the impact, if not stop the onset of the aging process.

It doesn’t take research or empirical evidence to show the downturn in the health of a really active individual on retirement from active service or work. Exceptions are those who take to creative vocations that keep the mind engaged and active.

The more active among the aged stay away from serious trouble, be it cholesterol, hypertension, cardiac issues, or fluctuations in sugars.

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Keep busy

Health permitting, it is preferred people beyond sixty continue to do whatever they are best at, and it is usually their profession. A doctor can continue to be useful to society for as long as he is alert and of sound mental health.

It is argued the retirement cutoff age ought not be too rigidly followed. Look at politicians in most countries. They continue to work till the mid- to late eighties, and beyond. Most, if not all, lead reasonably healthy lives.

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Don’t worry be happy

The golden rule is not to let worry the better of you, or run your life. The ruinous effect of worry is all too well known to be elucidated here.

The human race can be categorised into the ‘worrying’ and the ‘not worrying’ types, the former grossly outnumbers the latter of course.

Lucky are those who do not get entangled in their own problems and worry excessively. Fortune favours the brave, it is said. But it is equally true that in order for us to lead a trouble-free existence, we must be free from life-threatening ailments, including cancers and renal trouble, to cite a few.

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Minor ailments

There will of course be troubles such as vision impairment impeding our steady progress and affect our gait. Some get away, if they are lucky, with cataracts and the like of the eyes. These are relatively easy to fix. Here again, early detection of conditions such as DR (short for diabetic retinopathy), glaucoma or other forms of the more serious age-related macular problems of the eye can be more easily treated if detected early.

Time was when humans didn’t have the life expectancy we enjoy now. From around 55-65 a few decades age, the life span of an average Indian is now 75 or more.

Are Indians leading a happy, contented life. Does the increased life expectancy mean better physical health and mental well-being?  Perhaps yes, who knows!

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Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar is a communications professional who has spent a good deal of time in international organizations and in the development sector. As he puts it, it's been an "exciting journey" for him, beginning his working life as a journalist, with some of the best editors and professionals, before venturing into public affairs and then forays in the private sector. He believes "every day brings new challenges, achievements and success, and the key is to play a small part in whatever it is that you're doing". He tries to keep pace with new tech, and learn a new word a day, of course, "Gen Z lingo!"


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