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Whenever I hear the words, “How old are you,” I hesitate because I’m wondering what answer to give… Chronological age… the day and month and year I came to this earth( my years of existence) seems to be the norm answer and I cringe at the thought, as I will be labelled, and pigeon holed with all the characteristics given to people at that age group…. But no consideration is given to my biological, psychological, emotional, functional age which in no way will relate to my chronological age…

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There are 7 categories of aging and how we age:  With age such a crucial feature of a person’s identity that we tag everyone we know with name and Age and if we don’t we are in Limbo… at loss as to who the person is… sad…

Yet, age as society perceives it, is not a very good indication of knowing  a lot about a person. Think of the older-than-her-years hyper mature 15-year-old who could easily pass for 22. How about the older adult who lives down the street from you whose sprightly step would rival that of someone 40 years her junior? In thinking about yourself, as Satchel Paige once said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?”

It’s time to throw aside this narrow and imprecise measure of your identity, Time to move on to the next step, which is to calculate your true age. As it turns out, your true age will not be a simple number but will be a combination of where you stand along 7 dimensions.  In a nutshell age is multidimensional.

So what are the 7 Categories of Age?

(1)Chronological age

Chronological age is defined as the number of years a person has lived. Years, of course, being Earth revolutions around the sun. This is the one we’re all very familiar with.

So the big question is how old are you?  and  you will answer ….  I am so many years, months, and days old. Because of the ease and familiarity everyone has with chronological age, many tests and programs are based around it. Most 5-year olds are ready for kindergarten. Most 16-year olds have matured enough to drive. Many 65-year olds are ready to retire.

“Chronological age is just a rough indication of age. Because society imposes certain behaviour to different ages and that cannot be a reliable way of determining a person’s age… it’s just the most convenient way…

 

(2)Biological or Physical age

Biological age is defined as a description of an individual’s development based on biomarkers. A biomarker is a recordable molecular or cellular event. Here we’re looking at the individuals as they are, not necessarily when they were born. Such as your blood pressure, respiratory capacity, aerobic power, blood glucose levels and so on….

In layman’s terms… Physical age is the by-product of DNA damage and repair deficit. Physical age is an indication that the body is breaking down. Physical aging can be described by greying hair, wrinkled skin, fragile body, hazy eyes. It is age of our bodies in regards to critical life signs. Different cells have different ages, since cells get replaced. Cells of the skin, the digestive track, red and white blood cells divide daily, the old ones being discarded. Other cells are replaced every few years. Nerve and muscle cells are our oldest components.

(3)Psychological age (Subjective age)

Is the perception of how old one feels,  your mental outlook on life. This can be different than chronological age. For example, a person who is older may feel younger and vice versa. Psychological age is how old one feels, acts, and behaves, and is thus not necessarily equal to chronological age, which is age since birth. A person can therefore have a psychological age that exceeds their chronological age if they are mature or at least feel older than they really are. This may be common in adolescence when young teens that feel older than they really are engaged in behaviours typical of late teens and early adults.

Our psychological age can affect memory loss, depression, lack of sexual desire.

(4)Emotional age

How we adjust to circumstances that cause us to be rational or irrational. How we handle conflict and resolve misunderstandings are markers for our emotional maturity. Emotional age may follow chronological age, or may lag behind, or be ahead.

(5)Intellectual age

How we think critically about ourselves and the world around us.  Are we open or closed minded? The ability to reason and think critically can benefit our life experiences. Staying updated, flexible and curious about life can help to develop a youthful level of intelligence.

(6)Social Age

Your social age reflects your position along the so-called “social clock” of life. The social clock is based on the set of expectations that people in a given culture have about when life’s major events “should” occur. We can divide the social clock into the two major areas of life: family and work. The family social clock of our culture expects that people become parents at some point in their late 20s or early 30s, at which point they also are married or in a serious relationship. We become grandparents, according to this clock, in our 60s, reflecting the fact that our children are following a similar social clock. The work social clock says that we graduate from secondary school in our late teens, and then from university a few years later, at which point we start our career. We retire in our 60s, and at that point the work social clock stops ticking.

Now that you know the age markers on the social clock, you can calculate your own social age. If you’ve hit all those age points at the expected times, then your social age will equal the ages at which those points are set. You’re 65, according to the social clock, when you retire. However, depending on how your life evolves, your social age may be much younger or older than the norm. You can become a parent for the first time in your late 30s or early 40s (or later) and so you have now deducted at least 10 years from your social age. You can retire at age 25 if you happen on some good luck at the lottery or are in a job that people typically leave at a young age, such as high-intensity sports.  Your social age then becomes 65.

(7)Functional age

Is defined as a combination of chronological, biological, social, intellectual and psychological ages. What is happening is instead of focusing on one aspect at a time, we are summarizing them to create a more holistic picture of a person. Functional age would give you the clearest understanding of a person.

It is their listed age, how far along their body systems have developed, and a glimpse of their emotional and logical maturity. However, if you haven’t guessed it, this type of age is not often used. The requirements to describe someone this thoroughly means that you will need a lot of expert input – test after test after test to give you the clearest understanding of how old the person is.

Food for thought

How did you rate along these 7 dimensions of age?  How much do they agree and how do they relate to your chronological age? Now you can take one more test of your age, a test that may be the best of all. Ask yourself this very simple question: How old do you feel? Forget what the calendar says, and even forget what your functional ages are.

The age you feel may very well be the most important factor determining your health, happiness, and longevity.

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