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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"You look good....for your age!"

"She's looks good for her age!" and "He acts like he is twenty years younger!" How many of you have heard this or perhaps even said it? I recently caught myself saying something similar to a seventy five year old woman who appropriately shot back with "Well, honey, get used to it because this is what 75 looks like!"

The underlying concept in all this is, of course, that, as a culture, we have the belief that aging is "ugly" or the antithesis of "healthy". When we see someone who does not fit this image of decline we will usually utter something like the above or perhaps say something about defying the ravages of age.

So what is good health and bad health? Or, asked another way, what is healthy aging? And how does one acquire it? The fields of gerontology and geriatrics seem ripe with studies about the decline and dysfunction of aging but there seems to be little information available about healthy aging and how to acquire good self-care, high morale, intimate friends, and mental health...the four pillars of wellness.

Is healthy aging the absence of "looking old"? Is it the ability to run marathons past the age of seventy? What is it to be a healthy 60..70..or 80 year old? I wonder how we can get past the cultural belief that healthy/successful aging is simply NOT looking or acting your age?

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