Haims: A return to normal for our elderly
For whatever reason, when most people hear the phrase “getting older,” people envision someone visibly old. Perhaps people envision gray hair, wrinkles, or challenges with mobility.
Getting older is not such a bad thing. With age often comes wisdom. And, with age, sometimes comes comfort with who you are as a person. Aging is not all bad.
I’m 53 and I am more comfortable now in my own skin than I was in my 40s and certainly my 30s. I know who I am. I know what makes me happy. Furthermore, I know that my past successes and failures have helped develop me into who I am today.
Unfortunately, biological age is a different story. I ache a bit more than I did when I was young. Although I still think I can mountain bike up Vail mountain in under an hour, the reality is, I can’t.
Simply, I’m not in the same physical shape as I once was. Further, I take a lot more supplements now than I ever did, and my medicine cabinet always has a bottle of Aleve or Advil. Yep, there’s no fooling biological age.
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Medical ailments do not discriminate between chronological and biological age. People get cancer, diabetes, arthritis, neurological disorders, and many other ailments at all ages. Unfortunately, as we get biologically older, not only do medical ailments become more frequent, but we become more susceptible to ailments.
Age alone does not necessarily make someone more susceptible to coronavirus. The COVID-19 virus does not discriminate this way. However, people who are biologically older have more to be concerned about. Regrettably, as we become biologically older, our immune system may not be as resilient as when we were young.
As such, when our body’s health defenses are compromised by pulmonary complications, cardiac concerns, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, our ability to recover from COVID-19 or any other virus becomes more challenging.
This past week while helping family in California, I became very aware of the heightened level of concern many seniors have and how 24/7 media has caused fear and undue concerns during this pandemic.
If you wonder why a person whose business it is to care for the elderly only recently became aware of such concerns, I have this to say in my defense: I am very aware of concerns the elderly have. My office and I speak to our clients almost daily. And, I make it my top priority to share new scientific information and research with my clients and staff alike via personal calls and through our caregivers who receive frequent updates from the office.
Unfortunately, I have failed to properly share information with my family. It’s kind of a parallel to why the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.
First of all, just because you may not be in your 40s or 50s any longer, becoming infected with COVID-19 is not a death sentence. Many senior citizens have recovered from COVID-19. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other research institutions have shown that mortality for people 70 and older is just above 4% and for people over 80 about 8%. As the numbers show, plenty of elderly people have recovered.
Secondly, all of us still need to live and resume a life that is as close to what it was prior to COVID-19. For our elderly who are more compromised should they become ill, maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, hand washing, and avoiding touching your face are some of the things that can be done to keep safe. Of course, maintaining your health by eating well, exercising, taking your medications as directed, and avoiding crowds are all steps that can easily be taken to stay healthy and safe.
Keeping your immune system strong is of upmost importance. There is research showing that blood type and antigens with each type may be a factor why some people exposed do not get sick. If you want to educate yourself about this, go to scirntificamerican.com and do a search for, “Do Your Genes Predispose You to COVID-19.”
If you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition(s) or if you are sick and your oxygen saturation levels fall, you must contact your health care professional sooner than later. Most fatalities from COVID-19 complications have occurred because people have waited too long to seek assistance.