My generation of Americans, born just after World War II, has been aging averse as long as I can remember. Only adults as smug as many of us are could come up with the phrase “70 is the new 50.” But as the coronavirus spreads around the world, it becomes clear that thinking doesn’t make it so when it comes to age and disease. In the current health crisis, 70 is not the new 50 at all. In fact, 70 is 5-10 years into the category our Centers for Disease Control consider high risk of complications and death from the virus.
At first I took this caution to refer to people my age with underlying health issues such as diabetes, health struggles and COPD. My doctor disabused me of this belief in a chat I had with him last week. While it is true, he said, that the risk is higher for those with underlying issues, healthy people my age are still at greater risk. Apparently our immune system weakens with age, healthy habits or no.
At church Sunday I found many of my friends also having to adjust to the reality that we are those designated as “elderly,” “old” and “at greater risk.” Our church has recognized the risks and has already altered many time honored practices. In time we may have to stay home.
Sadly, the head of our nation, also one of my generation, has been constantly spewing lies about risks and containment. Because very few U.S. citizens have been tested, our numbers look very low. Once wider testing begins, it will become obvious that any time for containment passed many weeks ago. People without any known exposure are becoming ill across the nation.
I am adjusting to this new reality. I am an older adult. I need to be extra cautious, avoiding going places, scrupulously washing my hands, staying away from anyone with a bug. I would rather be 50, but I am not!