Sunday, 29 December 2019

Eat, Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow etc.etc

I am writing this from the perspective of a 55 year old male.

When you are under 30, you are probably immortal (at least in your subconcious mind).
A male in a "rich"(i.e. G7) country has a life expectancy at birth of about 76 to 81 (depending on the country) - it is 81 to 87 for women - and yes, the US is at the bottom and Japan is at the top for both men and women.
So even for the "worst" case, an American male, at age 30, about 40% of your "time" has passed - less than half.

By the time you get to 50, it is pretty obvious that the immortality of youth has failed you.
You start to attend the funerals of co-workers who died of ill health, rather than accidental death.
You start to get a fatter and fatter medical file, and if you don't already have life insurance, the premiums start to get scarily high. You've very probably buried a parent, or at least a few aunts and uncles. Not many folks in their 50's have grandparents still alive, although, of course, some do.
Speaking for myself, all 4 of my grandparents are long dead - the last died about 25 years ago. My mother has been dead for 10 years, and of my 4 uncles and aunts, one uncle has died. Only one of those 6 deaths was not "natural causes".

At 55, I am no longer immortal ;-)
But I want to see support my daughter (17 y.o.) for a while yet. Probably have to subsidize her education, or help her get her first flat/apartment, or both.

So what can you do?
Well, personally, I have paid what seems like a LOT of money into pensions scheme - both to central government and to commercial providers, and I don't want it to be a massive waste.

simply by living to 55, my life expectancy has gone up by more than 2 years ;-)
(it is because I can't die at less than 55 years of age, because I have already outlived that risk!)
looking at the G7 again, if you get to 65, things look even better, and the USA stops being the "tailender" - it becomes the "equal tailender" with Germany. The differences become a lot smaller for men, though - if you live to 65 and are male, you are likely to live to about 83 or 84. Form women the spread is much bigger, at 86 to 99 (yeah, the USA is worst again, and Japan is tops).

Of course, these are only figures for large population groups, and other things affect it too.
Genetics is one - if you have a lot of relatives who lived long, then that is a plus. But if your relatives die young, then that is a minus.
Things like not being poor and being better educated affect things, too.
(yeah, I have a modest house, and, yeah, I went to university).
And, the big one - lifestyle.

Nothing like a bit of exercise, not smoking, and drinking moderately to push up the life expectancy!
Have a fiddle about with the calculators here, and see what a difference a few lifestyle changes can make!
Using the tool I suggested earlier, my life expectancy, because I have reached age 55, is now 81.7 - put in more data, and I get 83.3, despite being overweight, having a grandfather who died at 44 etc etc - I assumed one relative at less than 50 and 3 at more than 50 - they actually died of multiple illnesses, but all had cardio-vascular problems. My saving graces are activity, not smoking and fairly moderate alcohol consumption.
How much do I drink? Well, I polished off a bottle of port in two days at Christmas, but that is something I only do once or twice a year. Normally 1 am a quart of (hard) cider a week, and often less than that. Indeed - often I don't drink for weeks or months at a time.
I am a lifelong non-smoker, so that one is easy for me.
On exercise, I walk about 8500 steps a day just as part of going to work and working, so it is really the more intense exercise I concentrate on - jogging and cycling - although I do sometimes just walk with my wife. But getting my weight back down to the lower half of overweight is worth a year, and getting back to normal weight is worth two, while further weight gain costs me years. And that is all assuming I can stay in the highest "exercise" category! If I retired early (I can just about afford to do so, although it would be a pretty frugal lifestyle in a cheaper part of the country!), and just drove everywhere, and "relaxed" a lot, that is worth a couple of years off, even if I don't gain any more weight!

At 55 already, a couple of years either way on my life expectancy feels like a lot more that it did when I was 30, and a couple of extra years of me working could really help my daughter, too.

So with a new year approaching, let's all get out there and do what we can!
Doesn't matter if it small or big, even the longest journey starts with a single step
(or in my case a 5k run!)
If you fail this time, have another go, next time.
(Health Warning: do see a doctor/physician if you have any health issues, and especially if you are over 50! - start slowly and build up - the last thing you want to do is go flat out straight away, fuelled by Red Bull and enthusiasm, get dehydrated, and have a heart attack. Take it easy at first, and work up to higher levels of exertion and duration of a period of months, not days! - I ran 3 (slow!) half marathons and did a (slow!) 200 km/125 mile cycle ride earlier in the year, so I know I can still handle a 5k or two, but if you haven't done much for the last 5 years or more, start out slow and short, and slowly build up!)

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