Chronological ageing is a relentless march we just can’t reverse. We have around 100 billion neurons and trillions of interneuronal connections in the brain, roughly weighing 1,300 gm. Neuroscientists claim that after the age of 60 most of us lose each day nearly 100,000 neurons.
But we need not be overly concerned about this, for we have massive reserves to fall back on and function near-normally, without memory loss, cognitive impairment or mental decline. Some medical statistics say nearly 40 per cent of the ‘oldest olds’ – really a rude way to address people 85 and above, suffer from significant dementia. Contrary to these findings – which are rather depressing and disheartening -- in real time I daily meet many bright and brilliant men and women who are well into their 80s and 90s, who are smart, alert, with razor-sharp intellect and quick reflexes, and their wits ready. This especially infuses in me a world of confidence, as I am soon to be 80. Statistics reveal a lot, but conveniently hide a lot.
Age-related ravages are not confined to the brain. Such attrition silently sneaks in and advance all over the body. Invariably every cell is programmed for self-destruction. With age, cells, cell structures, tissues, organs, systems will all go steadily down the slope. Adverse changes in hormones, DNA, enzymes and so on continue. Bones become thinner and weaker, muscle mass gets reduced, fats tend to accumulate – such changes go on non-stop.
Can we halt it? Can we put it in the reverse mode? Can we at least slow it down?
I have found a simple way. Around 5 a.m. each day, I give myself a ‘PowerPoint sing along’ presentation, “Hey, physician, you first heal thyself,” with the least trace of boredom, overhearing my own inner voice.