Don’t Let Anything Hold You Back from Living Life to the Fullest
Many people, especially us older ones, are reeling from this Covid-19 pandemic. This virus has swept through the states and knocked many people to the ground. Its greatest toll has been on older people. Some of us may have had a family member or friend who has died from it. If not, we have heard of people who have died.
The fate of many who have been hospitalized is not much better. All too frequently they cannot walk out and go home when they are well enough to leave. We see them being wheeled out in wheelchairs and find out they have to go to nursing homes or rehabilitation centers to recover.
You and I may never get Covid-19. If we do, hopefully it won’t be severe.
Eventually this pandemic will pass. Our grandchildren will be telling their children and grandchildren about it in the future.
Covid-19 and Our Own Mortality
This pandemic has caused many of us to think about our own mortality. More frequently now people are thinking about how much longer they have to live. Some may be concerned and worry. Others may plan to live life to the fullest and resolve to have the most fulfilling years they ever had.
You may not be aware but there are Life Expectancy calculators available. These were originally designed for Life Insurance companies. They needed to be able to predict how long a person could expect to live so they could determine how much to charge for their Life Insurance policies.
As more and more things were added to the internet, Life Expectancy calculators were included. Here are three:
The first is on Social Security’s website. You can click on this link to go to it – https://www.ssa.gov/oact/population/longevity.html.
The second is on the Living to 100 website. You can check it out by clicking here – https://www.livingto100.com.
The third is on Northwestern Mutual’s website. Click here to check it out – https://media.nmfn.com/tnetwork/lifespan/#0.
You may want to check one of these out. You will be asked some questions. From your answers, the calculator will give you an estimate of how much longer you can expect to live.
You may be leery about using one of these calculators. You may have a medical condition and be worried it is going to cause you to die prematurely.
For most of my life, I disliked doctors and hated the thought of needles.
My life changed drastically in 2004. After having chest pain almost constantly for 3 or 4 weeks, I made a mistake and told my wife about it. She wanted me to see a doctor. I was willing to but not as quickly as she wanted. I wanted to wait 3 or 4 months.
That didn’t sit well with her. She asked another couple to go out for breakfast with us after church the following Sunday. All 3 of them ganged up on me. I had an appointment with a doctor I never met before on the following Thursday. He ordered a stress EKG for the following Monday which I flunked. I had a double Coronary Artery Bypass the following week.
I went from a fear of doctors and needles to Bypass surgery and laying in a hospital bed recovering from this long incision in my chest with tubes coming out of my body.
Since then, I have seen my family doctor and my cardiologist regularly. I also have regular lab work and other tests done when my doctors feel they are necessary.
Shortly after moving here to Knoxville, I found a cardiologist. He recommended an internist who became my family doctor. I see both of them regularly.
If I Can Go from Never Seeing a Doctor and a Fear of Needles to Seeing Doctors and Having Lab Work Done Regularly, Anyone Can.
You may not be aware of this. Your Life Expectancy increases as you age.
If you’re male and are 65, you might find your life expectancy is between 87 and 88. Live to 75 and your Life Expectancy increases to between 89 and 92.
Why is that?
The reason is simple.
Every year that passes by, you add time to how long you can expect to live.
This may surprise you.
A determining factor for how long you will live is not what medical conditions you have but how well they are being controlled.
The Most Common Medical Conditions Older People Have
The chance of developing cancer in a person over 65 is much higher than that of a younger person. The most common types of cancer for these people are Breast, Prostate, Lung and Bowel.
The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance of recovery.
Diabetes is not only a serious condition. It can cause others like hypertension and kidney disease
Hypertension and Heart Disease
High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks.
Stents or bypass surgery are necessary when arteries are blocked.
50% of all strokes occur in people over 75 and 30% occur in those over 85. Leading causes of strokes are hypertension and diabetes Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices and working with your doctor.
This is a brain disorder which causes difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. It also causes shaking and stiffness.
While It is a disabling condition, the life span of people with it is not much shorter than that of those who don’t have it.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
At least 10% of Americans over 65 have this disease. It frequently comes from smoking.
There are two types affecting older people – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis typically comes from an injury or obesity. Fractures of the hip and hip replacements are normally due to osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto immune disease which attacks the joints of the hands, wrists and knees.
The word means porous bone. This is a disease where the body loses bone, makes too much bone or does both. It is more common in older women.
Urinary Tract Infections
These are very common in older adults and occur more frequently in women. One third of all the infections residents of nursing home experience are Urinary Tract Infections.
Chronic Kidney Disease
More than half of the adults 70 and older suffer from this disease. Hypertension can be a factor here.
This is a catch-all for any condition which causes loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities severe enough to interfere with daily life.
The most common form is Alzheimer’s.
In normal times, almost 20% of those 65 and older have experienced depression. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this has been much higher.
This is one of the fastest growing health problems among Americans over 60. It is more dangerous for them because they have a decreased ability to metabolize drugs or alcohol and an increased brain sensitivity to them.
About one in three people between 65 and 74 have difficulty hearing. That increases to one half of those over 75.
The surprising thing is . . .
. . . If You Have Any of These Conditions and If Your Doctor Starts Treating You for it at its Early Stages, Your Life May Not be Shortened by it
This is the reason to see your doctor regularly. The earlier they can identify a problem, the faster they can start you on a plan to control it and the less likely it will be to shorten your life.
If you don’t have a doctor, ask your family members or friends for the names of their doctors. Find out if they like them and if they think the doctor is taking proper care of them. Research the doctors on the internet and pick the one who seems will take the best care of you.
Make an appointment and have the doctor do a physical. If you don’t care for the doctor or feel he is not giving you the care you need, go to a different doctor.
After my bypass surgery, I had to see a cardiologist regularly at first, then annually.
The first cardiologist I had was great. After about 4 years, he moved out of the area. The medical group he was in had me see another cardiologist in that group. Prior to my second annual visit with him, a man I knew had seen him. The cardiologist told him he was doing fine. 2 weeks later he had a heart attack.
My opinion of the cardiologist dropped. When I saw him again, I didn’t care for some of the things he said he wanted to do. So, I fired him. Yes, you can fire a doctor.
I had my family doctor recommend another cardiologist. He was what I was looking for – someone who knew his field and had my best interests at heart. I was his patient until I moved here to Knoxville.
Other Things to Do
In addition to seeing a doctor regularly, there are several other things you can do to live till the age projected on a Life Expectancy calculator.
Eat the right foods. We all slip and occasionally eat what we should not. Don’t beat yourself up over that. Just get back on track again.
Watch your weight. Yes, this is tough for all of us. Keep doing it. You will see progress.
Exercise. Another tough one. (Many of us avoid exercising). The best way to get in to it is to make your exercise a part of what you like to do.
I like to fly fish for trout in the Smokies and try to get out once a week. I normally hike 2 to 3 miles one way before I start fishing. That is a total of 4 to 6 miles for the day. During the summer, I sometimes hike about 5 miles before I start. The total is 10 miles on those days.
I look at it this way.
I am not going to lay around and take it easy in the years I have left. I am going to have the fullest life possible that I can. I want to enjoy every minute.
Look at the Picture at the Top of this Post.
I really admire this woman and man. They are living life to the fullest. Both are older than me. Yet, they are not slowing down.
What about you? How will you live the rest of your life?
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is email@example.com.