ColumnistsGolden Years

‘Train Wreck’ Waiting to Happen?

By Harold Miller

I’m sure you have heard the cliché about today’s 80 being yesterday’s 70 and today’s 70 being yesterday’s 60 — and so on.

However, in our Florida condominium complex the average age now is over 80 and for many, the octogenarian years are becoming a train wreck.

Skin cancer is prevalent, arthritis has caused many joints to fail and need replacement, and heart disease is running rampant among our neighbors and friends.

There are those who would argue that longevity is to be found in the genes rather than at the gym but I have done much research on this subject because of doing a column for 55 Plus magazine.

Moreover, my daughter Marcia is professor of physical therapy at Nazareth College in Rochester and she has indoctrinated me in the philosophy that lifestyle and diet will dictate whether we decline in that fateful 70-90 corridor.

The sins of our youth start catching up with us in our 50s. A lifetime of obesity, lunch at your favorite hamburger joint, a pack of cigarettes a day and lack of exercise start taking their toll.

The magazine you are reading is an excellent source of information about the health aids, nutrition programs, gym facilities, physical therapy facilities and everything else you will need to pursue a healthier lifestyle. My generation did not know that smoking, overeating, eating the wrong foods, lack of exercise and ignoring the immune system would shorten our lives, but there is no excuse today. The odds are staggering that if you do not adapt a healthy life style, you will encounter the train wreck.

Creating a healthy life style is not easy. It requires discipline, dedication and a dose of PMA, or positive mental attitude. You can’t do it all by yourself. You should consult your doctor who in turn should be able to line you up with a physical therapist and nutritionist.

Fifty-five plussers are heeding this advice. The gyms that my wife Janet and I faithfully attend three or four times a week are full of baby boomers and the prognosis among the medical community is that living an active life until and beyond 100 is within their grasp.

Frankly, I am scared to death about becoming indigent or being warehoused in a nursing home or being a burden to my family. Consequently, I established a personal goal many years ago to lead an active life until the century mark. As I approach my 84th birthday, it becomes obvious that there is more work to be done — but it will be done. No one knows what the future holds in store, but it appears that I am still on course and if I can do it, you can do it.