You’re Looking Very Well: the Surprising Nature of Getting Old

From The Telegraph:

Wolpert2_1882970f One of the many virtues of Lewis Wolpert’s excellent investigation of “the surprising nature of getting old” is that he does not treat the elderly as an undifferentiated blob, distinguished only by different degrees of dependency, deafness, cantankerousness, technological incompetence and resistance to novelty. Variety, rather than uniformity, is to be expected since we bring to our later years a lifetime of experiences. Increasing age is typically marked by decline in physiological function, a growing burden of disease and a rising probability of dying, but many factors determine our physical nick and attitudes to life.

Our genetic inheritance, our quality of life in utero, education, class, career, lifestyle, status, levels of physical, mental and social activity are just some of the main influences. The ageing body is like a field self-sown with mines. Wolpert treats us to a sprightly tour that encompasses the diseases and neurological conditions that may await us en route to extinction. But even this familiar territory is planted with surprises. For example, those who earlier in life endorse negative stereotypes of their elders are more prone to poor health when they themselves are old, in part because they are more likely to attribute remediable problems to irremediable ageing.

More here.