Are We Sick or Merely Getting Old?


As we age, we know our bodies go through various changes. Sleep habits might change. Some people begin sleeping more while others may begin to sleep less. Muscles ache, body aches, some individuals may even experience pins and needles in their feet or other parts of the body. Some may have problems with their brain (ideas just bouncing from one thought to another).

What does this all mean? Well, several questions come to mind: “What does old feel like?” or an even better question is: “What does sick feel like?”  How do we differentiate between the two?

If one looks up these two words either in the dictionary or on Wikipedia, they would be told the following:

Oldhaving lived for a long time or no longer young.

Sick – affected by physical or mental illness.

Which brings me back to my question – “What does old feel like?” I ask this question because it would appear to me that as far back as I can remember – once a person reached a certain age – or perhaps even looked the part, they were looked upon as being “old.”

And yet every now and then one will pick up a newspaper, see someone on the television, or notice something on the Internet that exclaims – oh look at this or that person do whatever it is they are doing and make the comment “Gee, I hope I either look like that or can do what they are doing when I reach that age.”

The problem with this scenario though brings up the question “At what age?” We all know that as we age, our bodies do tend to wear down some, if not completely, and as such need rest. For some – a nap may be in order – for others, perhaps just sitting down to take a break from whatever physical activity they were performing might be in order.

But, is this enough? How are we to tell if we are sick or merely tired? Okay, one day we may over-exert ourselves and do tire sooner but the question that still needs to be asked is – “Are we merely tired because of what we were just doing or is it because we are getting older?  The flip side to this question could also be that quite possibly we are tired because something else is happening to our bodies and we should not just be passing it off as “Oh, I’m getting older?”

Hopefully most of us visit our doctor, if not twice a year, at least annually. Let’s review that scene as to what happens when we do visit them: they draw blood the week before the visit so as to view same and make sure everything is within its normal range(s); they listen to our heart and lungs to make sure they are working properly; they take our blood pressure to be sure that is not “out of whack” so to speak; and sometimes they take your temperature to be sure you are not running a temperature. More often than not, they also weigh you to be sure you are not gaining or losing an inordinate amount of weight within a specific time period.

But, is that enough? Could something be lurking behind the scenes – something the doctor doesn’t see or know about. Most of us, at one time or another, has had the occasional flu or cold that has laid us up for a few days – you know – the one episode that has us coughing, and hacking, being feverish, quite possibly having the runs, and just that overall feeling that – hey, just let me lay around for a few days until I feel normal again, whatever normal is?

However, putting that scenario aside for a moment – and I don’t mean to sound like a broken record – but does anyone have a sound description for what “old” feels like? Why do I ask? Because, looking at life and old age in this fashion, is it any wonder why sometimes we may well wake up, not feel our usual selves, drag ourselves to the doctor – assuming of course we can get an appointment within a reasonable amount of time – only to find out that – lo and behold, the doctor informs you that you really are sick. Or, perhaps the doctor says something like – you should have this or that test or procedure done to rule out certain possibilities. What now, you think to yourself.

Over the past two years I have seen several close friends and relatives – some that were truly sick and others not sick at all, receive information that they have some dreaded disease or worse yet, that their time is short. Keeping that thought in mind, the fact is that today, more than ever, we need to become our own advocate when it comes to our health.  Only we know how we feel from one day to the next and whether that feeling is different than our normal (and I will let you be the judge of what normal is) selves.

Unfortunately, I do not have a solution to this dilemma but in thinking about it and knowing that as we age, our bodies go through various changes, it is logical that we will feel differently. Naturally, the question that results is – “How differently?” – old-old, or sick-old?” To coin an old cliché: “That my friends is the $64.000 question!”


In the interim though, “Stay well! “

Until next time!