No doubt you have heard the expression that your ‘age is catching up with you’, and indeed, this analogy of time being akin to a stalking predator that we can hide from, but never escape from in the end is depressingly apt the older one gets. However, whilst it is certainly true, for now, that in the end, time will ultimately win, and there is no escaping that, part of the meaning of life is surely to at least ‘annoy’ the predator of time as much as possible, by forcing it to go on a wild goose chase first as it tries, and fails, for years and years to pin you down. After all, it is this heroic struggle against the inevitable that often defines what it is to truly be alive, rather than merely exist.
The Usual Suspects
When it comes to what are the usual culprits, there are some which stand out in particular. In 2020, for example, lung cancer alone killed an estimated 130 thousand people in the US, and two-thirds of a million died from all forms of cancer, double the amount killed by Covid-19 that year. Just under 200 thousand died from accidental injuries, and a further 160 thousand from stroke, a hundred thousand from complications involving diabetes, but the largest killer that year was heart disease, which killed over 690 thousand people. In total, 3 and a half million Americans died (of something) in 2020. Many of these conditions, namely heart disease and diabetes, are often related to diet and exercise, and there is overwhelming empirical evidence linking lung cancer with smoking, with smokers making up over 90% of all lung cancer patients. Neither poor diet nor smoking enhance the prospects of Covid patients either, as it is, in essence, an auto-immune disease which attacks the respiratory system, particularly in the elderly. In nearly all of these cases, the advice of well-balanced diets and plenty of exercise does, however cliché, ring true.
Age and the Mind
As the years pass by, the effects of age on the mind also become more and more pronounced, dementia becoming increasingly common in people over the age of 65, although it can sometimes begin earlier. There is no one singular cause, as there are various forms of dementia. Vascular dementia, for example, is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain over a long period. This is one of the main reasons that continual use of the mind in the form of creative and intellectual pursuits is so important, as it stimulates blood flow to key areas of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the cerebellum, which neurologists note as being associated with things like creativity and memory processing. This is also why maintaining a vibrant and dynamic environment is important in the context of assisted living, as those who have searched for ‘assisted living Toms River NJ’ have discovered.
A Head Start Over Time
In essence, forcing time to work for its meal is a matter of combining both physical and mental means of maintaining oneself over long periods, and this is best achieved with a combination of a positive attitude and an unassailable will to engage with and explore life in all its beauty and diversity.