Merigian Studios


As We Age

As We Age

As we age, the days seem to go by quicker even though time does not move any faster. What we could do at forty-two years-old, we can usually do at fifty-six. However, as we make the sojourn to the land of the elderly, our bodies appear to have the tendency to age fast. Our society focuses on the physical, women and men both look for answers to help retard or even reverse the aging process. Advances in cosmetic procedures, hormone replacement strategies and skin care treatments can be beneficial at restoring some of the damage done to our bodies over our lifetime. However, no one can restore a broken heart of a grieving woman or man. Time cannot patch-up the voids of childhood nurturing or erase the impacts of abuse done at an early age. No one can escape their destiny, but they can impact their fate by making authentic choices along their journey.

So what is the true life cycle of our bodies? German physicians have studied human cycles and circadian rhythms for at least a hundred years or more. They believe that the body grows and matures in stages of seven years. Every two of seven year cycles which is fourteen years, a hallmark of maturation or change in rhythm occurs. For example, when a female child reaches the age of seven years-old, her body begins its preparation for menstruation. Some girls are menstruating as early as nine years-old now. By age fourteen years, ninety-nine percent of all girls have matured enough to menstruate. Some adolescent females will not be fertile, they have estrogenic cycles without ovulation. Other young woman will ovulate and posses the gift of creation. Two seven year-cycles terminate at fourteen years-old. Boys by fourteen years-old should show overt signs that they have fully functioning testicles by transcending puberty and starting their young male journey to adulthood.

If we consider seven year cycles or stages, important transformations should be in full effect at fourteen, twenty-eight, forty-two, fifty-six, seventy and eighty-four years-old. If we ponder a bit, these age marks seem to coincide with what we intuit about our lives. Women are fully fertile by twenty-eight, begin the transition to menopause at forty-two, are usually menopausal by fifty-six manifesting major hormone changes such as bone loss, genital atrophy and loss of connective tissue in their skin. Men have completed their transition through puberty by age fourteen years-old, reach their peak of sexual potency at twenty-eight, begin to lose potency at forty-two years-old, are usually unable to produce enough sperm to inseminate a woman as well as struggle with impotency by age fifty-six, and at seventy years-old, they will have lost significant muscle mass, experience atrophy of their testicles, and lose their ability to experience an erection.

Eight-four years-old is the age that twelve cycles-of-seven-years have passed. I believe that eighty-four years-old is the average potential life span of healthy humans in general. The only country I know of that has on average, an eighty-four (83.7 years) year life span of its population is Japan, which is a social-welfare state. The Japanese look after their people in many ways, and put emphasis on healthy eating, exercise and spiritual contentment.

Closely following Japan with average life spans of eighty-two years old or older are Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, Spain, Iceland, Italy, Israel, Sweden, France, South Korea, Canada, and Luxembourg. The United States ranks 31st with an average life span of 79.3 years-old. As I age, I realize that the last five years of our lives matter. The United States is far from being the healthiest country in the world.

What about the stages of psychosocial or psychosexual development? There are a number of researchers who have left their mark on our perceived understanding of neuro-cognitive development. Influential developmental psychologists from the 20th century include Urie Bronfenbrenner, Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Jean Piaget, Barbara Rogoff, Esther Thelen, and Lev Vygotsky. There are a number of parallels in physiological and psychological development. Seven-year stages fit closely with several of the theories of developmental psychology put forth by some of these remarkable investigators.

The stages of physiological development are often times ignored by most physicians, since their worldview is shaped by their training in medical school and post graduate education. I contend we are mere soups of hormones that manifest in stages, each stage giving way to another stage which continues for twelve stages (t0taling 84 years).  Understanding the stages gives practitioners the ability to assign certain signs and symptoms to physiological disturbances instead of a disease process, as well as knowing symptoms of a disease or diseases that does not fit with expectations of our aging process.

I cannot tell you the number of patients who have appeared at our door, relating that their signs and symptoms have been assigned to their age, only to find out that their age has nothing to do with their fatigue, body aches, diffuse pains, poor energy and lack of libido. Not every vague symptom can be assigned to aging, but getting older is not for Casper Milquetoast. If you are going to try to put everything into your life that you possibly can, you might want an additional five years if your cognitive and physiological functions are high enough to enjoy those additional years. Know your body and research the signs and symptoms associated with changes in hormones. There are at least thirty or more hormones that have great impacts on our bodies and it's normal physiology, so sometimes it is not an easy task to differentiate the aging process from a disease state.

A word of caution is needed here, in case you’re thinking about moving to one of the countries with a much longer life span to benefit from their healthy energy, forget it: It's too late. You have already been branded with the Made in America label.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 10:27 AM
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