Preventing Frailty

When a worker was here last week to fix the cracks in my foundation, we talked about some of the improvements I want to do outside the house, such as the pathways I want to put in, so that I can be safer in my old age. He commented that I spend too much time thinking about getting older, which might be true, but on the other hand, if I don’t work now to provide a safer “fourth age,” who will? (Old age has now been divided into two categories — the third age from 65 to 80, which used to be called the golden years, and the fourth age, which is from 80 on.) Admittedly, I am still years away from that fourth age, but what I do now will give me the best chance of a) living to that age, and b) living strongly once I have arrived.

I do worry about frailty — I see so many older people who are too frail to navigate under their own power, and I don’t want that for me. Well, no one does wants that for themselves, but since I have no younger family members to take care of me, I have to be particularly careful. I’m also willing (more or less) to do what it takes to keep frailty at bay for as long as possible. To that end, I’ve been researching how to keep from getting frail as I get older, and most of it I already know. Keep moving, for one, such as taking walks and stretching. Do resistance exercises to help build up muscle mass. Eat more protein. Avoid dieting since weight loss leads to more muscle loss than fat loss. And oh, yes, kick the sedentary habit.

It’s that last part that has me flummoxed. I do understand that we as a society are too sedentary, and to be honest, some of my most prevalent activities are sedentary ones, primarily reading books and playing around on the computer. But the suggestion is to do no more than three hours per day of such activities.

Huh? We’re talking about people in the third and fourth age here. What are we supposed to do for all the rest of the time? Let’s say we get eight hours of sleep a night, perhaps another hour for grooming tasks. Perhaps an hour or two for fixing meals and doing chores. Maybe, if we’re being generous with our estimates (or maybe if we’re outright lying), we exercise for an hour.

That adds up to twelve hours. And only three should be sedentary? Heck, if we in the third age could be up and around, doing all sorts of on-foot activities for nine hours, we’d be — oh, I don’t know — still working perhaps. Where are we supposed to get the strength for all that activity? Following the rest of the suggestions — exercise, more protein, etc — can only give a newly elderly person so much energy. All those years we are carrying around are heavy, which adds to desire for sedentariness.

Come to think of it, maybe that worker is right. Maybe I’m overthinking all this. Maybe I should just do what I feel like, even it turns out to be way too much sitting.

***

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5 Responses to “Preventing Frailty”

  1. Kathy Says:

    So true! This gave me a morning chuckle. “Health tips with humor” – lol! Love it!

  2. Estragon Says:

    I think the worker is at least partly right – we may worry too much about old age.

    I bought my bungalow some 30 years ago, in part, because it would be relatively cheap and simple to add ramps to accommodate wheelchair/walker access should infirmity require it in future. My wife suffered the ultimate infirmity, and was easily carried out by a couple of strapping paramedics – no ramps required. If I stay here long enough, I may end up needing the ramps, or I may be carried out too. Time will tell, but in the meantime, the ramps can wait.

    Yes, we need to do things to fend off the inevitable frailty as we age. The fact is we can suffer from mental as well as physical frailty though. Not much point to having a super-fit body with the mind of a cabbage. Maybe we’ll live long enough to be brains in jars, or uploaded to some sort of sim-world? If so, maybe those hours spent reading, thinking, and otherwise exercising the brain won’t be such a waste of time?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      wonder if everyone does this — thinking too much about aging and preparing as best as we can — or if it’s another facet of not being with the person we planned to grow old with.

      As for brains in a jar, etc — what a nightmare! Maybe I need to stop spending so much time reading and thinking and exercising my brain.

  3. Judy Galyon Says:

    You are being smart when thinking about the years to come. Life is short, do what you want.


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