We are only as old as we think we are

“You’re just getting older” – family physician

Time and again, patients relay this as the response when asking their doctor “why does this hurt?” or “why can’t I do this?”. While the body does go through a degenerative process as we age, that does not mean that pain, dysfunction and disability are given results.

However, many older Americans have report no disabilities. 89% of 65-74 year olds report no dysfunction with a drop off to 73% among 75-84 year olds. There is a more drastic drop off at the age 0f 85 where only 40% can still report no disability.

Most of the disease and disability is preventable with cancer, heart disease and strokes accounting for nearly 70% of deaths in the US. Many individuals who survive these catastrophic events will live with residual impairments that will limit their activities of daily living (ADL). Diabetes is another preventable co-morbidity that can increase overall health risks while also decreasing quality of life through pain syndromes such as diabetic neuropathy or loss of limb.

Arthritis can often lead to chronic disability as well. Again, some joint degeneration is part of the aging process. However, degeneration can be rapidly progressed by overuse, untreated injuries and poor posturing. These create muscle imbalances around the joint which leads to abnormal movement patterns subsequent abnormal wear patterns. Proper evaluation by a licensed healthcare provider such as Physical Therapists or Certified Athletic Trainers can allow for remaining active and pain free through the later years of life.

For those of you still doubting, please become familiar with Fauja Singh (see link below):

Merk Manual of Geriatrics.