OPINION: Old chestnut of one’s ‘real age’ and a number

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
Your age shouldn’t dictate anything more about you than the number of candles on your cake.
Camera IconYour age shouldn’t dictate anything more about you than the number of candles on your cake. Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

It’s a cliche and one used most often by older generations, but according to recent research, there may be truth to “age being nothing more than a number”.

According to The Characteristics Approach to the Measurement of Population Aging, published in December 2013 and more recently in July 2020; “Conventional measures of population ageing, such as proportions over age 65, can present a misleading picture of the ageing process by not taking account of changes in people’s characteristics beyond their chronological age — for example, changes in remaining life expectancy, health and morbidity, disability rates, and cognitive functioning.”

In layman’s terms, your age doesn’t and shouldn’t dictate anything more about you than the number of candles on your cake. A real age involves many factors, including overall heath and cognitive functionality.

I turn 47 next week and I feel younger than I was when I was in my 20s.

I am able to move faster, lift heavier and can get so much more done during the day than I could in my younger years. Yes, this is due to a fitness drive, but the evidence is clear. Being in my late 40s does not mean I’m limited in anything I do. At least nothing physical and not yet anyway.

But, I do feel the growing number of candles in a lot of other ways. My eyesight and hearing have declined in the last 10 years, leading to new glasses and a lot of shouting at people to, “stop mumbling”.

I do feel my intellect is as sharp as ever but, every now and again I find myself forgetting the odd thing while out shopping, or on the rare occasion an anniversary or birthday.

I still don’t consider myself to be “old”. Perhaps that’s because I am surrounded by an ever-ageing population. Our Western population’s life expectancy seems to increase every passing year. Or perhaps it’s the children that surround me in my teaching job, keeping me on my toes, with their youthful energy rubbing off on me?

It does make me sad when I hear people saying, “you are too old for that” or “I am far too old to be trying new things”.

At my gym I’m surrounded by athletes far older than me who are in much better physical shape. But more inspiring are the older members who have recently joined, participating with a gusto that belies their chronological age.

These people are the ones proving it’s never too late and age really is just a number.

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