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Jul 17

Graceful Aging

I heard a funny story a while back. One faithful morning a pastor was trying to convince a motley audience on the need to get to heaven. During the course of delivering his treatise, he told them that there will be gnashing of teeth on judgement day for many when they discover they had missed out on heaven. He had barely finished saying this when a loud, boisterous laugh rang from somewhere in the auditorium. It had come from an old wizened man who said, “I can’t gnash what I don’t have! I don’t have any teeth”. Not missing a beat, the preacher looked at him squarely in the face and said,” …the Lord will provide”.

While old people and ageing are the butt of many jokes worldwide, the search for the fountain of youth has been an age-old pursuit of human civilizations. We want to live forever. We long to be around for as long as conceivable and after that some years more. The search for longevity has spurn many theories from different schools of thoughts ranging from simple diet modification, to lofty concepts like body part replacements, genetic modification, and even freezing the body with the hope of resuscitation at a future date when technology is available to accomplish that.

Over the last century there has been a marked increase in live expectancy amongst the world population especially in the developed nations. The life expectancy of a child born in America in 1900 was 47 years. Now it is 77.7 years. This is largely due to major advances in vaccine and antibiotic development, coupled with concerted public health campaigns to improve environmental conditions. Unfortunately, such quantum leaps in life expectancy are yet to be seen in much of the developing world. The life expectancy of a Nigerian was 46.74 years in 2005 placing it 173 (behind Rwanda at 172) out of 192 nations.

Worldwide, emphasis is now shifting from just calculating life expectancy and working only on that to noting healthy life expectancy (i.e. the proportion of a person’s life he actually spends in good health) and working to improve it. There is little gain for a person to live to be 70 only to be a nuisance both to himself and his family. There’s perhaps no gain for one to attain 80 years of age only to be virtually blind, deaf and be feeding through a tube. In some nations of the world, as high as a whooping 25% of their populations’ lifetime is lost to ill-health. This does not have to be so.

Are you planning to live long? Please let me in to your plans 🙂

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