My dad was brilliant but stubborn. He smoked, ate a fat-filled, high sugar diet, and was totally opposed to exercise. He had to quit smoking when he developed bladder cancer and his urologist told him that if he continued to smoke he would not see him in his practice, because a cancer recurrence would be inevitable.
He started eating healthier when his brother developed type 2 diabetes and he realized that he might end up with the same thing. However, he refused to get regular check-ups until he was in his mid 60’s. He did not realize that for most of his adult life he had high blood pressure, because he did not feel it. But, it took its toll on his kidneys in a big way.
By the time he was being seen on a regular basis he was in renal failure. Despite treatment for his hypertension, his kidneys finally failed completely. He made it to 84. He was alert and with-it till the end. Had he been treated for his high blood pressure early on he would still be here. It was amazing that he made it into his 80’s, but his quality of life suffered, especially the last 10 years.
My mother on the other hand has always been a health nut. She was exercising and eating healthy before it was fashionable. She quit eating red meat when she was in her 40’s. She has been walking and going to exercise classes most of her adult life. She now does Pilates, yoga, and is an avid tennis player. She started playing doubles a couple of years ago because her knee was acting up and she couldn’t run as fast in her singles games. She plays bridge, goes to lectures at the local university, and is now traveling around the world.
I cannot say how old she is because she would kill me, but I am 58 and she was not a teen mom so you can kind of guess her age. To look at her you would think that she was in her 60’s. She is committed to keeping her brain and body healthy and has been for most of her life. Fortunately my siblings and I have followed her example.
We have no control over what goes on in the world, but we can control how we treat our bodies. Life can get crazy, but there are choices we can make. You can choose to ignore your health as my father did (and please say hello to him when you see him) or you can follow the path that my mother is on and be well!
“To resist the frigidity of old age, one must combine the body, the mind, and the heart. And to keep these in parallel vigor one must exercise, study, and love.” Alan Bleasdale