Getting to enjoy more years of deterioration.

“Women are thought to have stronger immune systems than men. Out of the top 49 oldest people alive today, only two are men.,” writes “Whimsy” columnist CLIVE WILLIAMS


We all have to accept ageing as both a blessing and a curse. 

By Clive Williams.

A blessing in the sense that by age 50 you should have paid off the mortgage and learned from your mistakes.

A curse because for many people it’s the start of degenerative aches and pains and general physical and mental deterioration. The curse aspect is also brought home to the elderly when travel insurance costs more than overseas travel.

On the plus side, you now get to enjoy more years of deterioration. Life expectancy in Australia has improved dramatically for both sexes in the last century, particularly life expectancy at birth. Compared with their counterparts born during 1891-1900, boys and girls born today can expect to live around 30 years longer.

Average life expectancy in Australia is 81.3 years for males and 85.4 years for females. Australian men aged 65 in 2018–2020 could expect to live another 20.3 years (an expected age at death of 85.3 years), and women aged 65 in 2018-2020 could expect to live another 23.0 years (an expected age at death of 88.0 years).

Even so, there are several animals that have a longer lifespan than humans: the bowhead whale (more than 200 years), the giant tortoise (over 100 years), the Greenland shark (up to 400 years), and the ocean quahog clam (over 500 years). On a par with humans are the African grey parrot and the macaw and cockatoo species that can live 80 years or more.

Why do women live longer than men?  

Scientists believe that estrogen in women helps combat heart disease by reducing circulatory levels of harmful cholesterol. Women are also thought to have stronger immune systems than men. Out of the top 49 oldest people alive today, only two are men.

Do married men live longer than single men? 

It’s jokingly said that it may seem longer – but there are several reasons why married men live longer: better social support, better health behaviours, lower likelihood of engaging in risky activities, and being less isolated. Of course, some men’s partners may be less supportive. As one vexed woman said: “I blame myself for my husband’s death. I shot him.”

Life expectancy changes over the course of a person’s life because, as one survives the danger periods of birth, childhood and adolescence, the chance of reaching old age increases. Sadly, the more of your friends who die before you, the better off you are in the longevity stakes – based on average life expectancy. 

Obviously, a lot of thought has gone into ageing and here are a few thoughtful comments: 

“If you want to know how old a woman is, ask her sister-in-law.” – Novelist Edgar Howe

“Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you are aboard there is nothing you can do about it.” – Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir 

“The older I get, the more clearly I remember things that never happened.” – Writer Mark Twain

“I’m at that age where my back goes out more than I do.” – Comedian Phyllis Diller 

“Nice to be here? At my age it’s nice to be anywhere.” – Comedian George Burns

“You spend 90 per cent of your adult life hoping for a long rest and the last 10 per cent trying to convince the Lord that you’re actually not that tired.” – Author Robert Brault 

“Old people shouldn’t eat health foods. They need all the preservatives they can get.” – Comedy writer Robert Orben

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us… at age 40, we don’t care what they think of us… at age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” – Ann Landers (Pen name of “Chicago Sun-Times” advice columnist Ruth Crowley) 

“The important thing to remember is that I’m probably going to forget.” – Unknown

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” – Television writer Andy Rooney 

“The older I get, the better I used to be.” – Golfer Lee Trevino

“I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a lot more as they get older, and then it dawned on me – they’re cramming for their final exam.” – Comedian George Carlin 

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.” – Writer Mark Twain

“You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.” –  Musician Joel Plaskett 

“There’s one advantage to being 102, there’s no peer pressure.” – Comedian Dennis Wolfberg

“There are three stages of man: he believes in Santa Claus, he does not believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus.” – Journalist Bob Phillips 

“Looking fifty is great – if you’re sixty.” – Comedienne Joan Rivers

“At my age ‘getting lucky’ means walking into a room and remembering what I came in for.” – Unknown 

“Old age is when you resent the swimsuit issue of ‘Sports Illustrated’ because there are fewer articles to read.” – Comedian George Burns

“Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.” – Unknown 

“First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down.” – Jurist Leo Rosenberg 

Clive Williams is a Canberra columnist. Canberra City News


You may also like

Leave a comment