The Joys of Living Beyond 50

“A long life may not be good enough, but a good life may be long enough.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

If you read news about the boomer generation, you’ll rarely be at a loss for factoids about what the chronologically gifted can look forward to, post the half-centennial mark. In a feed I received from purpleclover.com, I learned the following useful (or depending on your perspective, useless) information.

1) Your sweat won’t smell the same. Everyone has a unique scent but the underlying chemicals that determine one’s body odor change with age. This can be linked to your sweat glands, hormones, and in some cases, medicines you might be taking. Yet you need not worry about “old people’s smell.” Recent research found that people’s negative association about older people’s body odor is more about one’s personal fear of aging. Middle-aged women (45-55) were determined to have the most pleasing scent. Middle-aged men (sorry guys) scored the lowest ranking. Lesson: don’t go overboard on onions and garlic (food odors travel through the bloodstream and enter sweat glands).

2) Your brain won’t work as quickly. It’s true, brain function in middle age isn’t the same as it was in our younger years. We can become more forgetful, and we don’t recall facts, words, and details as quickly as we once did. But recent research shows the news isn’t all bad. Scientists have found that the middle-aged brain can revive itself for the better. For example, scientists believe the brains of older adults are drawing from decades of experience to improve mental functions. What can you do? Find some mentally stimulating activities to keep your mind sharp. Consider taking a class, teach yourself to write with the opposite hand, and/or ditch multi-tasking.

3) You’ll need to shorten your pants length. Shrinking is a real thing for middle-agers, especially women. Beginning around age 40, the spinal column gets shorter due to its loss of bone density (between 5-20%) and the thinning of disks between each vertebra. Women over the age of 50 are now at the greatest risk for developing osteoporosis. Consider lifting weights, ramp up your weekly walking or do some type of daily activity that puts stress on your bones. In addition, eat more calcium-rich foods (yogurt, broccoli, salmon and almonds) and take a vitamin D supplement to help the body absorb the calcium. This pertains to men, too.

Yet, for all the downside (I only listed three), in the next 50 years, life extension experts predict that humanity will evolve into powerful bodies made from indestructible non-biological materials that automatically make repairs when damaged. Author Ray Kurzwell in The Singularity is Near, details how our bodies will change in the coming decades. Today’s frail human body, “version 1.0” has a high failure rate (50+ million died last year, most from age-related damages). Biotech and nanotech advances expected in the 2010s and 2020s promise a more durable “version 2.0” body immune to most sicknesses, including aging. (My note: aging is a sickness?)

Which yields “version 3.0” expected by the late 2030s – a remarkable mostly non-biological body boasting a zero failure rate. Even if a destructive accident were to occur with this futuristic body, experts say, advanced molecular nanotech and quantum computing systems could construct a new body with the patient’s original consciousness and memories intact, allowing life to continue.

I don’t know about you but a little body odor, some diminished mental acuity and, a bit of height loss is beginning to sound okay to me. What about you?

43 thoughts on “The Joys of Living Beyond 50

  1. I like your questioning that aging is sickness? I am sure that long after I’m gone there will be life-extending measures I can’t even imagine, however, given what I know about previous generations, we’re damned lucky to be alive now. I think we’re lucky we aren’t “done” at 60 like just a generation or two before us. It is odd, though, getting older. I do realize I’m finite, and I didn’t think those thoughts when I was younger. LOL!

    • Yes, the “aging is a sickness” thought wasn’t one with I am inclined to agree. I see aging and an extraordinary opportunity during which there is so much to experience and appreciate. Sure we are finite but do we need to tightly embrace that reality? It could be limiting. 🙂 Here’s to our continued aging, at least chronologically.

  2. Wonderful post Eric. So informative and challenging. I’m really pondering on your statement, “Aging is a sickness.” Challenging thought What does it mean to call oneself finite? Interesting. Thank you.

    • Challenging in a number of ways, Don. In some respects, I am comfortable knowing that I will not be part of this futurist predictions. I have other work to do elsewhere and need to move on. 🙂 And if I happen to become ‘sick’ along the way, I’ll cross with that bridge when it presents.

  3. I heard from a friend that there’s a new study that’s been done about vitamin D saying the supplement pill really isn’t helpful. You just need to be out in the sun. In addition your body can hold only so much vitamin D (vitamin c too) and the rest goes bye bye through good old waste.

    • Seems every day there is a new “study” that lends more to confusing than clarifying. In/with this onslaught of technology and accelerated communication, I find comfort (and grounding) in my intuitive abilities to sort through all of the messaging. Ultimately, we will each make our own, unique choices. 🙂 Thanks, Glynis, for your input here!

  4. They sound ok to me, too…not interested in the other! While we can’t stop the natural process of aging, our mental attitude about it weighs heavy on the physical aspect of it. We all must learn to take better care of ourselves.

    • That’s two of us not interested in the other. And it seems unnatural (to me) that we’re not far away from being able to slow or impede the aging process. Your concluding sentence nails it, Suzi!

  5. Good information, Eric. As a human society, we do need to explain everything, it seems…from the fear of body odors to shrinking bodies. I notice that even as my body changes, my heart is expanding. The more we believe in the power we have to heal ourselves, the less “conventional” wisdom has for us. I am not my body – it is something I have. I care for and honor it, for it is the instrument of the human experiences my soul seeks to have. What we believe about ourselves, is what makes the difference in our health or dis-ease. Doing our spiritual work AND tending to the mental and physical make for a much better journey…at least it does for me. 😉

    • As it does for more and more. Carrie. My valuable take-away from your thoughtful comment is “What we believe about ourselves, is what makes the difference in our health or dis-ease.” It’s about self-care, in the aggregate, across all facets of our being. Thanks for your insightful sharing!

  6. Haha oh my goodness… the shortening thing scares me. I remember growing up my father always told me I needed calcium but I hated milk. He would buy me these calcium chocolate chews that I would eat for like a day and then never commit to (I continue to have this same issue with vitamins). Well, now I’m told that you only have until you’re 27 to store up the calcium your bones with need for the rest of your life. Oops. I will be 28 in April. I’m going to be a hunchback in a few years.

  7. In the meantime … as we age, lets do it with grace! As a yoga teacher I take a holistic approach to keeping the mind, body and spirit nurtured and in balance. Research also shows that yoga can make a difference in how we age, physically, mentally and emotionally.
    I also love this quote:
    “Youth is not a time in life, it is a state of mind. It is not a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees … It is freshness of the deep springs of life. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul” Swami Bua age 110

  8. I am looking foreword to melding my physical with synthetics. We actually were just having a conversation about Google Contacts (not glasses) and I will be first in line. I want to be fused with nanotechnology and have those bits which sag or hurt replaced with a 3D copy.

    I can’t believe you wouldn’t!

    • You “want to be fused with nanotechnology.” And to each their own! One of me in a lifetime is plenty. The prospect of replacing me with a 3D copy, is too taxing a thought. In the end, a human is a human and a bionic is a bionic. What will uniquely differentiate the two? Will the bionic being be able to cook as well as you? Will he even care about cooking? 🙂

      • Ah yes, Steven Hawking. Alas, I happen to be one of those who believes that a human is defined by their heart; a singularly unique organ that distinguishes each of us. Where we agree is in/with the disposability of the vessel. 🙂

    • I’m visualizing this teamwork… your mom with the flashcards while sipping a good Mexican margarita and Shelley sweating from the workout and cussing her mother in fluent Espanol. Viva la viaje!

  9. Great post! I totally don’t agree with aging as “sickness”. We should all be thankful for each birthday. As a woman under 40 (barely), I hear nothing but good things about getting older. My mother, who is in her late 50s, is constantly saying that she has never been happier in her life. I even remember as a child thinking that crow’s feet were attractive. Many of us need to change our thoughts about getting older. It is truly a blessing.

    • It’s all perspective, iB. There are myriad ways to view and exist with aging. You and I (along with many others) are of similar, positive mindsets. 🙂 Thanks for adding to the ‘conversation.’

  10. Pingback: As Time Goes By | Eric Tonningsen's "Awakening to Awareness"

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