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How Much does Aging Cost?
It costs a fortune:
We live in an age where the limit of impossibility has become shorter due to the onset of technology and the availability of knowledge. Taboos are thrown into the garbage bins as new data, through study and research, are made available by the minute. But some things remain intractable, defying explanation, or a solution. Foremost among these is the inevitability of aging.
But before we go into the nitty-gritty of aging, take a look at these facts:
o Due to advances in the medical and nutritional fields, barring accidents, the risks of dying at age 40 and below are very small;
o At 40 and above, we enter the zone of the seven chronic deadly diseases. These are cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart and pulmonary diseases and mental illness;
o Eighty percent of the senior citizens in the U.S., those at 65 and older have, at least, one chronic disease that could lead to disability or premature death;
o According to the World Health Organization, more than half of the 57 million deaths in 2007 were from these chronic diseases, and the figures are rising;
o All combined, the annual economic impact of these chronic diseases, in 2007, was US $ 1.3 trillion, of which, $ 1.1 trillion was the cost of lost productivity;
o Obesity, the major factor of these chronic diseases, can save approximately $ 60 billion in treatment costs and increase productivity by $ 254 billion if, the obesity rates (in the U.S.) decline;
o If these facts remain unchecked, the loss of human capital and skill-building could reduce the U.S.’s economic output by $ 5.7 trillion in real GDP by 2050.
o If smoking rate, currently at 22%, can be reduced to 15% nationwide, an estimated $ 30 billion in treatment costs can be avoided, $80 billion in productivity savings will be realized.
Whew, it does cost a lot to age, doesn’t it?
What is aging?
Though we grow old, defining “aging” is not so straightforward probably because it means different to a lot of people. Some take it condescendingly while others with pride, like “I have aged as a vintage wine.” But to cut through the intricacies of definition, the simplest is:
“Aging is the biological process of constant, predictable change that involves growth and development of living organism.”
While others take this as “chronological” aging in terms of years, others take to “psychological” aging, defined by the attitudes, mind-sets and reactions to the vagaries of life. Thus the rate and manner of aging vary from people to people, depending on their genes, environmental influences, lifestyles, etc.
Aging cannot be avoided, nor can it be prevented. Pretty soon, wrinkles start appearing on our hands and face, our muscles sag, hair thin out, turn gray or just fall off. We start having hearing difficulties, memory lapses, pains in our joints, dimmed eyesight. And as our body ages, it becomes more vulnerable to various diseases, side-effects and complications. We fall prey to any of the seven chronic and deadly diseases.
Can these be slowed down or avoided?
I am 62 years old. Today, I had a wonderful game of doubles at tennis. Our opponents, a lot younger than I, made the mistake of playing it at the net where I am better than most. We won with me hardly working out a sweat. So the answer is “Yes” - if you have the desire and the will to do it.
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