I have written before in this column about getting old, and sometimes have made an analogy likening it to owning a used car. When you have an old used car, it takes more maintenance, oil changes and grease jobs to keep it going. The human body is like that.
As you get older, the engine (heart) gets older. The wiring (nerves) get more fragile, the transmission (legs) get less reliable, the chassis (body) gets rustier, etc. You needn’t feel bad about any of this–it is all a part of being human and living through the aging process.
Of course, one of the benefits of living today is that modern medicine has created a lot of drugs and treatments for people as they age. When you go to see your doctor, they look at your latest “blood work” and can pretty much tell you how your body is doing. After looking at the numbers and talking things over with you, they may tweak your various prescriptions, often will recommend more exercise, and then they will declare you good to go “for the next 5,000 miles.” This has resulted in most of us living longer, but nothing (including prescription drugs) slows down the aging process.
I used to turn away from discussions with my older colleagues when they began to talk too much about their aches and pains–I called them “organ” recitals, and they were depressing to listen to. But, I have changed my mind a bit.
What I think is actually going on is that older people talking about their healthcare situation not because they feel sorry for themselves, but because they hope to learn something in the process. They also are concerned about each other and, perhaps, can learn and help someone else with the healthcare issues they are facing.
For example, it has been my experience that people can have more sleeping problems as they get older. It can be hard to fall asleep or sometimes when you wake up in the middle of the night, it can be hard to get back to sleep. When you start to talk about such a thing with friends, a lot of people “pipe in” with what their own problems have been, and how they have been dealing with it.
Call it senior-citizen “bonding” Or whatever you want to–but it can often be helpful to talk with someone else who has already been down the road you are now on. Another malady that is often associated with aging is the “silent killer,” high blood pressure. It is good to compare notes with others. Maybe you can find a better solution for your own problems.
I have often said that: “You are your own best doctor.” Your physician sees 30 or 40 patients a day. You only see one-yourself. You need to remain proactive in regard to your health, and speaking with people who have similar issues can be helpful.
Another used car analogy would be to compare troubles with the car’s frame with the human back as it gets older. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been helped by people who also have back problems telling me about a new exercise or therapy which has helped them.
One last word–don’t forget this is the only used car you have to drive. You can’t trade it in for a new one. Talking about and dealing with your aches and pains is much better than doing nothing about it!
Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.