By Steve Bond, BScPhm, RPh, CDE, FASCP
As I write this, I am approaching a milestone birthday. This year I will have made the 940 million km around the sun for the 50th time. As a matter of reflection, I look at where I am and more importantly how much longer I have left to do the things I want to do. I have come to realize a few things:
- I am likely past the halfway point of my life.
- When I was a kid, 50 seemed ancient and now my viewpoint has changed.
- There a difference between chronological age and biological age.
Chronological age refers to how long you have been on the earth — measured by the number of candles that were (or should have been) on your last birthday cake. It is a simplified way of understanding age and it is how we determine who can drive, vote, drink alcohol or get a discount at Unusual Finds. A less known but more accurate measure of age is biological (or physiological age). This considers a person’s physical and mental attributes, which are affected by genetics, but also can be modified by lifestyle.
Early on, say in our teens, chronological age and biological age are almost identical; we rarely hear an 18-year-old bragging about having the legs of a 16-year-old. As we age, however, there are more opportunities to reduce the biological age compared to chronological age. Things that we can do to widen this gap include proper nutrition, adequate sleep, regular exercise, managing stress and fostering positive social relationships.
Medication adherence and disease state management are also critical to maintaining a healthy biological age. For example, uncontrolled blood pressure or diabetes can affect our organs and increase our biological age.
So why does the difference matter? As I stated above, chronological age determines what we can do. What if it were determined by biological age? In 2018, Dutchman, Emile Ratelband, then 69, petitioned to shift his birthday from 11 March 1949 to 11 March 1969, based on his physical examination. He argued that his chronological age affected his job prospects and dating opportunities. His case was rejected by the courts, but it certainly gives food for thought.
So, while I accept that I am now a Pentagenarian, I choose to live like I am in my forties.
Take care of yourselves and each other.