From the very moment when we are born, we begin to age. It would seem that in these first few years we could have grown accustomed to this. But no, from a certain age we stop even being happy about our birthdays. Why are we afraid of growing old?
Although handsome grey hairs and expressive wrinkles lend a person a certain trustworthiness, for some reason we do not want to exchange our chestnut locks and velvety skin for them. All right, that’s grey hairs, but what about a bald patch? And the expanding waistline, flabbiness and hunched shoulders which go with all this…
So that these changes do not catch us unawares, we should prepare for them in advance. To begin with, it is worth remembering that a person does not just have a chronological age, but also biological and psychological ones.
All we need to do is look in someone’s passport to find out the first one. Biological age shows what state someone’s body is in, and psychological age determines how old a person feels.
Since all these ages are interconnected, it is possible to change how they relate to each other. For example, a mature woman who feels twenty five inside will try to look a corresponding age and keep herself in good shape.
Many items of research show that those people who put off life-changing events “until later” usually feel and look much younger than their age. However those who are in a hurry to live already feel old in their youth, and people around them overestimate their age.
At the same time it is dangerous to ignore our “passport age”. After all if an elderly woman wears a bright-coloured bow and frivolous shorts, she is not continuing her psychological youth but is setting off down the path to senility. Our reflection in the mirror helps us to remember that life does not stand still and we should adjust our plans accordingly. For example, when a 40-year old man examines the bags under his eyes, he will more quickly realize that it is time to settle down and raise a son than a twenty-year old dandy.
Radiculitis, heart attack, stroke – just one of these names makes us uneasy, and if you imagine that this diagnosis has been recorded onto your medical chart, then tears of sorrow will stream into your half-drunk tea with sugar and rich bread roll with butter and jam. Stop there. What have you got with your bread roll? Sugar is “white death”, butter is a source of increased cholesterol in the blood and carbohydrates are a sure-fire way to gain excess weight.
As a result, the reasons for practically all illnesses connected with old age lie in an incorrect way of life led by a person from their youth. It is not without reason that even at ninety you can pick out former sportsmen and dancers from their posture and they way they walk. The higher the level of a person’s usual physical activity, the more beneficial habits will remain in old age.
If a man always lifted a fifty kilogram weight without any problem, then in his advancing years he will have no problem intimidating his disobedient twenty-kilogram grandson. But if he never lifted anything heavier than a shot-glass, it does not bear thinking about how this duel would finish.
Of course it is always a shame to swap sweet tea for mineral water and spinach as a light snack, but getting used to keeping your health under control will reduce the risk of any unexpected problems arising in old age.
Many people identify old age with loneliness. But if you take care of your nearest and dearest, it is easy to avoid this problem of old age.
Sincere relations with your children, and then your grandchildren, will allow you to feel needed, thus young again in old age. Chatting to childhood friends and girlfriends from school help a woman to feel like a girl again, just like ten or twenty years ago. So nostalgia is an amazing means of psychological rejuvenation. It is not surprising that many elderly people fall back on it.
On the other hand one should not lose touch with reality. With age the amount of friends that someone has becomes less and less. Some move away, you find that you have less and less in common with others, and some just die. Therefore a person should not be afraid of expanding their circle of acquaintances. For example, just one son-in-law, if you accept him as your own born son, can bring not only his parents, but also a rich selection of numerous relatives into this circle.
There is no need to hide from it – when we talk about old age, we often mean imminent death. As someone wittily put it, life is in effect a terminal illness.
Psychologists maintain that it is only those people who have achieved practically nothing in their lives who experience a panicky fear of death. If a person can look back with pride and count up several achievements which he finds extremely worthy, then he can pass away a lot more peacefully, with the feeling of having fulfilled his debt. Therefore we have to create as many of these achievements as possible, while we have the strength and capabilities.
In conclusion, we can say, to paraphrase a well-known expression, that since old age is inevitable, we should just relax and enjoy it.
Translated by James Platt
War negates human nature and societal peace and harmony. H.G. Wells manifested the declaration of human rights in 1939 and wondered "What are we Fighting for?"