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Surviving past Eighty: Avoiding what can kill you

 The primary rule of survival is:

 "Be aware of your surroundings"

Okay. So what can kill you? The specific list is long, but the basic things that do people in include:

1.) Serious disease

2.) Traumatic injury

3.) Suicide

4.) Murder

5.) Terrible genetics

I have survived several bouts with #1, serious illness - including dangerously-high blood pressure, prostate cancer and aortic stenosis. Any of the three maladies could have done me in had my doctor not detected the issues while they were still manageable. 

The lessons are clear. I have almost-always been in good-to-excellent shape - and remain there at the age of 80-plus. It is always a good practice to go into surgery lean and muscular. The benefits of doing so far outweigh the work and mental discipline required. And another point. Avoiding the medical profession is not advisable for those seeking longevity.

Referring to #2, I have had very few injuries in my life, with none being traumatic. Wherever I am - be it driving, walking or existing in a crowd - I am constantly on the lookout for individuals, vehicles or situations that could be dangerous. Working 20-plus years as a cop gave me that awareness.

Now to #3. It is ironic that the two-of-the-three friends/associates that have committed suicide were some of the most-intelligent individuals I have known. A brain may be the most-vital survival tool to keep you alive, but it needs to be used properly. What all three had in common was tunnel vision - and the lack of ability to be aware of the world around them.

Murder (#4) can happen to anyone. I avoided being gunned down by a fugitive on the run following his triple murder of a woman and two kids - surviving only because of my awareness, the cowardly retreat of the fugitive - and a good dose of luck. Getting past 80 always requires some good fortune.

I also have had to deal with #5, terrible genetics. I survived the cancer that took my mom at 49 and the heart disease that killed my bother at 64. I have thus far avoided the neuromuscular diseases that took my sister at 19 and my dad at 64. Also, one-of-my-two grand daughters died at 25 from cystic fibrosis. Once again, maybe luck intervened on my behalf.

Awareness, healthy lifestyle, interaction with the medical profession - and simple good luck. I have integrated all four factors into being a vibrant, viable 80-year-old. But I don't fool myself. A dose of bad luck could change things in a negative fashion - but right now, I am thriving.


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