Not So Random Thoughts on Aging
Why Are Baby Boomers Dying Prematurely?
I am a pioneer antiaging/age management physician. I co-authored the best-selling book on the age management – The Life Extension Revolution: the New Science of Growing Older without Aging. I was the founder of the Los Gatos longevity Institute rebranded as California Age Management Institute. These credentials are well known.
I have been giving serious thought and reflection on an alarming dichotomy of generations. It appears that so many individuals who were born in the 20’s and came of age during the Great Depression and World War II are living well into their 90s. They are living forever. I have wondered what is it that promotes this longevity? This even includes survivors of horrific POW and Concentration camps.
Meanwhile, baby boomers are dying prematurely in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Notable names like Leon Russell, Glenn Frey, Tim Russert. The list grows every day.
At first I thought these were all entertainers. Like the premature death of Jim Morrison, James Dean, Andy Kaufman, Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin. But I have also seen a number of my own medical school classmates pass well before their time.
So what is it about those who grew up and came of age during the Depression and World War II?
They lived a less stressful life. There were no microwaves, cell phones, television, DVDs, Internet, computers. Before there was traffic congestion with cosmopolitan smog and more recently invisible and lethal EMF smog. They ate sparsely. They ate healthy foods that were enriched in non-depleted soils. From “victory gardens.” They did not overeat because there were no fast food restaurants. Modified caloric restriction. Food was expensive.
Generational Age Categories
An interesting headline published by the WJ Schroer shows these descriptive categories.
- Depression-era — born 1912 – 1921
- World War II — born 1922 -1927
- Post-War Cohort — born 1928 – 1945
- Baby boomers — born 1946 – 1965 (early and late waves)
- Gen X – born 1966 – 1976
- Gen Y or Millennial’s – born 1977 – 1994
- Generations Z – born 1995-2012. These are not Millennial’s. These are the victims of the most recent Florida shooting.
Each one of these generations is characterized by an ethos and environmental factors. It must have an effect on aging and longevity. I often talk about life attitudes that can be characterized by decades.
20-year-olds are fearless and have no concept of limits. Evel Knievel dare devils , Olympic athletes and Army recruits. 30-year-olds have a glimmer of age limits but it is fleeting.
40-year-olds begin to sense time is beginning to take its toll and are the most motivated and dedicated to achieving optimal health and well being. 50-year-olds are more aware of non-infinite mortality. 60 year olds sense the quickening of the sands of time.
70-year-olds are well aware of time limits. 80-year-olds are either highly motivated to passing the 90-year-old barrier or are totally accommodated to the facts of their own mortality. 80-year-olds are either marking time or actively engaged in longevity prolongation.
The Challenge for You
How do you characterize yourself? In what generation do you find yourself? In what decade do you find yourself? What are your goals and aspirations? What are your hopes and most fervent desires? What motivates you? These are vital questions at all ages but gather increasing importance with advancing age.
I hate the term senior citizen. It makes me want to blurt out, “right on, junior citizen.” My mother-in-law hates the term the Golden Years. So did my mother. They refer to it more often as the Rust Years not the Golden Years.
This dichotomy between Depression-era/WWII babies and Boomers needs more study and thought. It is today’s challenge to you. What do you want to do? We most definitely live in highly challenging times.
As Jerry Garcia said, “What a long strange trip it’s been.”
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” – Ralph Waldo Emerson