Well, my father-in-law celebrated his 94th birthday and he’s still going strong. Since the emergency call last December, it’s been a year of panic, research and lifestyle adjustments for all parties concerned. It has introduced mortality into dinner conversations, and exacerbated fears of increasing dependency and decreasing presence of mind.
Then I read a post in The New York Times Blog entitled “What’s Your Fitness Age?” and realized there is another way to look at senescence. Here’s my new mantra: Forget chronological and focus on fitness age. This concept was developed from a research study connecting physical activity to wellness. Fitness age is calculated by determining your VO₂ max (volume-oxygen-maximum), which essentially reflects how well your body uses the oxygen it breathes in. Although the best way to measure this is through a treadmill test, there is an online calculator to get an idea. Even though it’s probably nothing more than a ballpark, I tried it and am proud to say my fitness age is almost 20 years younger than my chronological age. We can’t control our birth date or the passage of time, but we can impact our fitness age through physical activity. Being an ardent fitness enthusiast and control freak, I find this encouraging.
My father-in-law is doing well now that he’s gotten used to his caregivers. He still meanders in and out of reality, but that’s OK. Instead of getting upset at the bizarre things he says, we’ve learned to be amused. Here’s an example:
FIL: “I tried to call my second wife and she didn’t answer.”
G: “Second wife?”
FIL: “She was here. I don’t know where she went.”
G: “You never had a second wife. You were only married once.”
FIL: “Oh, that explains why she didn’t answer.”
Gotta love it 🙂
If you try the online calculator, post a comment to share your results.