At my age, doctor, John Glen was an astronaut!

by Kerry Cue

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dark red quote 1 The United States contains more people aged 65 and older than the total population of Canada.dark red quote 2

…………………………….The Demographics of Aging Report

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At your age, what do you expect?


When consulting with your doctor about some illness or injury, you may hear the words, “Well, at your age, what do you expect?” In other words, your illness is ‘your age’. You may want to respond, “At my age, Doctor, John Glen was an astronaut”. John Glen went into space at 77 years of age! Unfortunately, your health provider would more than likely mumble [under their breath], “You’re no John Glen”.

Pelvic Floor Exercises on Beach Now imagine you are a 70-year -old American with a painful knee. What does it actually mean if your doctor glibly comments ‘Well, at your age, what do you expect?’ According to the statisticians there are 18 million Americans in your 65 – 74-year-old age group. As there are 18 million Americans ‘your age’ does that mean they are all limping about the place because of painful knees? The flaw in this logic is simple. You cannot make assumptions about the health of one person from group statistics. When the sample size is 18 million, such assumptions become a joke.

If your doctor thinks YOUR AGE is the disease, he or she might miss a more specific diagnosis. How do you respond to this type of comment by a medical practitioner? One 70-year-old had the answer. In her book, [published over 30 years ago!], ‘Mirror, Mirror, The Terror of Not Being Young’, author, Elissa Melamed, tells the story of a 70-year-old who visited her doctor with a painful right knee. “You’re 70 years old, what do you expect?” he insisted. “My left knee is 70 too”, she replied, “and it’s fine”.

Photograph from USA Social History Archives

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