When did 60 become the new 80?


Did you ever have a birthday and someone say something to you that sounded like this? You know that 40 is the new 30? Or maybe, 50 is the new 40? Or perhaps, 60 is the new 50? Have you ever given a thought as to why people say those things? It’s because we have been living longer based on advances in our healthcare system. We now have antibiotics and medicines that can prolong our lives that previous generations did not have. People are now biologically younger than they were at any given age if they are relatively healthy.

About thirty years ago, a relative of mine was on a State Board that was formulating decisions for health care. There was only so much state money to go around when assisting people on aid and so heath guidelines were being developed on how to allocate those funds. For instance, if you were an alcoholic, you would not be considered for a liver transplant. If you had already had a liver transplant, you may not be given another. Those funds would be allocated to someone else in order to give them a chance at life. Conversely if you were a certain age, say 80, and you had breast cancer, you would not be considered for chemotherapy or radiation as the negative effects of the therapy could be worse for you than just living with the cancer and dying of natural causes several years down the road.

Now we find ourselves with a global pandemic. Unfortunately countries are having to make difficult decisions as to who will receive extraordinary life-giving care and who won’t. Some have suggested the cutoff age for that care be around 60 or 65 depending on which hospital, state or federal government makes those decisions. Although it may feel like a kick in the teeth, this idea has been around for centuries. Remember when the ship was sinking at sea and the rule was “Women and Children First?”  People have always had to make life and death decisions based on the greater good for society. 

So what can an older person do if they find themselves in that position? What can you do to increase your chances of survival should you be attacked by a virus or any other life-threatening illness? The following are a few thoughts from my perspective:

1. If you’ve been living the high life expecting the doctors to perform a miracle should you have a problem, give up the fallacy. The next time you wake up with a hangover, take a good hard look in the mirror. Throw some cold water on your face, give yourself a slap and say, “Snap out of it!” You can’t live like the devil and expect your doctor to swoop in and save you or your tired liver should the need arise.

2. If you smoke or vape, stop! Almost 1/5 of deaths are smoking related and you can increase your chances at life simply by stopping. You know your doctor has been begging you to stop for years so why not listen to his advice? Pick up that cell phone, give him a call, and get that prescription of Nicorette he’s been wanting to write for you.

3. Put down that remote, get those tennis shoes on and walk out of your house. Take a spin around the block and then each day or so add another block. It will increase your circulation, build your stamina and lower your blood sugar. Within a week or so, you will start to feel more alive than you have for years.

4. Slow down on the fast food. Try to eat a few fruits and vegetables.  Honestly, they won’t hurt you. No one is saying you have to eat kale, just add something green to your diet. Something red or yellow won’t hurt either. Eating healthy will also give you more energy and help clean the slog out of your system.

5. Put down that beer or Coca-Cola and grab a glass of water. Try to drink several glasses a day to help clean out your system. It will help your kidneys function better and will remove toxins from your body. Your skin will even look younger.

6. Take a Multi-vitamin. Yes, gummies count. Get those needed vitamin and minerals inside of you. They will also help build your stamina and strength.

7. Stop putting you faith in the healthcare system and try putting it in God. He’s the only one that can save you in this life or the next. Why not look to Him to help you survive? 

It may be true that 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50, but when it comes down to it, our birth certificates will reveal our true age. Let’s do our best to take personal responsibility for our health and not rely on any doctor or healthcare system to save us.

Image by Michal Jamoluk. Courtesy of Pixabay.