Uncle Jim wasn’t really our uncle, but everyone who knew him called him that. He was in his nineties when I first met him. To meet someone of this age isn’t so unusual now, but in 1959 it was very rare. He lived to be 102 years of age.
Even as a child, I was entranced with the stories that Uncle Jim would relate to us. He was born prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. One can only imagine the history he witnessed as it was being written. We were told not to disturb him, but I had so many questions in my young, inquisitive mind that I wanted to ask him, questions that would go unanswered.
In 2000, there were an estimated 65,000 centenarians in the U.S. It is projected that by the year 2030, that number will increase to 381,000. The life expectancy in 1876 was age 40. In 2008, it is 85 years of age. It is quite possible that the years spent in retirement equal, if not exceed, the number of years spent working. Are we prepared for this?
By prepared, I mean are we going to be spending those golden years relatively healthy and physically active, or are we anticipating filling up the assisted living facilities and/or nursing homes? The choice is ours!
If you have been sedentary most of your life, this is a question that heeds serious consideration. Are you willing to become physically active in order to improve your quality of life, or are you content to settle for losing your ability to perform the normal activities of daily living, such as dressing yourself, being able to walk unassisted, or feeding yourself?
Is it of interest to you to be able to use your life savings for recreational and social events and enhance your quality of life, perhaps even leave an inheritance to your family or favorite charity, or are you perfectly happy to turn your hard earned money over to a health care facility?
And with the anticipated growth in the aging population, just how many of these facilities to you think there will be to house all of us? I can guarantee that the first ones of us to be accepted to these facilities will be the ones with the money to pay, and/or who have Long Term Care insurance. The rest of us will be left out in the cold, maybe even literally.
I realize that this is not my usual perky, happy-go-lucky, fun, health and fitness article, but this is a subject that is of great concern to me. I believe that we don’t want to face the reality or severity of the situation, that is only a few years down the road, otherwise our older adult fitness classes would be overflowing. While there are some very active senior adults, we are certainly in the minority.
Do you want to take control over your destiny? It’s time to get into gear and get to a center that can lend guidance to your physical fitness program. I would prefer to exercise with you, not bring you flowers in the nursing home. I want to stay physically active so that I can live longer and better. And when those young children come to me with questions about what it was like growing up in the good old days, I can answer with complete and total recall, and in grand detail, from my front porch, not from my wheelchair in a nursing home.
While I may not have any control over that at all, I will not go down without a fight. I will exercise and stay active as long as I can. Please join me in this great adventure called fitness. You will enjoy feeling good and being more mobile, and you can rest assured you will spend less time in the doctor’s office and more time having fun.