I was talking to a couple of people this week and the subject came up about aging and how the topics of our conversation changes as we get older. We seem to emphasize certain areas that were never a subject for discussion in years gone by.

One conversation was with my sister, Fifi, who lives in Australia. We asked each other about our well-being as far as it concerns our health. She remarked about how when she conversed with our older sibling, the conversation invariably seemed to veer into issues pertaining to health even though neither has any health issues of major consequence. I realized that I tend to do the same with others of my generation. Now this is not to convey the impression that this is all that we talk about but there is no question that health issues and how we can stay well does seem to feature in our conversations.

I wonder whether this is merely a function of aging or whether it has to do with the fact that those of us who live in the West are particularly conscious of health issues given the culture that exists here of emphasizing wellness and how one can stay healthy.

Now there are some interesting variations that arise as a result of this tendency to talk about age and health issues.

One of the indelible memories I have is of the father of a young couple whose origins are Indian, visiting the US from India, about ten years ago. He mentioned that he had retired at the age of 55 a couple of years earlier. I asked him how he spends his time and he said that there really was not much he could take on given his age and since “he already had one foot in the grave”! He was 57 years, in relatively good health and most disconcerting he was only four years older than me!! The thought that I might be reaching a point where people of my generation could view being in one’s late fifities as being at the tail end of one’s life was quite unsettling!

Another incident that comes to mind was when we were staying with a relative of mine in India. We invited them to join us for dinner at a restaurant in the city where they lived. He was in his late sixties and expressed his reluctance about going out to eat – though his wife and children were excited at the prospect – because he said that he found that eating out invariably resulted in his stomach getting unsettled. I was somewhat disbelieving at his reason for not eating out! I guess what goes around come around because today I find that I am in the same boat. When I eat out I do it with some minor trepidation as to its impact on my digestive system!

They say one is only as old as one feels and I think that is very true. I think attitude is a big part of aging well and doing so gracefully. Yes, age takes its toll in certain respects and both mentally and, especially, physically there are things one cannot do that one could effortlessly a decade or two earlier. However, there is a fine line between the limitations that age imposes on us and inducing ourselves into a mindset where one feels that we are unable to do things because of age.

3 Responses to “Myriad thoughts on health and aging”

  1. saira says:

    that’s why when we eat out with you papa we always let you choose!

  2. Peter says:

    Where is the spirit of “eat drink be merry for tomorrow we die” ? Strangely I used to think that it was an Epicurean philosophy partly because of our father, but according to the all knowing Wikipedia its actually a quote from the Bible…Ecclesiastes. As for having one foot in the grave, not to be morbid…but don’t we all?

  3. TJ says:

    Not true, Saira – I am very adaptable. I can always eat less!

    Peter,you must have been in a morbid mood when you commented what with the “everyone has a foot in the grave”. I guess I have never viewed it that way even when I was having health issues. I guess we want to delay the “tomorrow” as long as we can!

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