Donald NorfolkRetirement is a time, not for giving up, but for taking up. It should be a period of growth rather than one of stagnation and decline. People are living longer, but what’s the use of those added years if their health becomes wretched? Doctors today make a clear distinction between ‘active life expectancy’ and ‘dependent life expectancy’. The first is a blessing, the second a curse. People often exaggerate the gulf between the young and old. To emphasise the split sociologists talk of a Generation Gap. What worries me is not the supposed gulp between the generations, but the enormous difference which exists between the health and activity levels of elderly people of similar ages. One person at seventy will be having a ball, while many of their contemporaries are physically and mentally spent. We’re born with roughly equal attributes, but the gap between us grows as the years unfold. It’s as if two ships were setting sail on the same journey from the same port. One starts out following an optimum course, the other just one degree adrift. To begin with the gap between them is small, but later on it becomes immense. Time and again in my career I’ve witnessed the tragic effect of this disruptive process. Some patients, when I’ve examined them after a lapse of twenty or more years, have seemed little changed. Others have deteriorated enormously. In the interval they’d fallen victim to the Geriatric Gap and become mere shadows of their former selves. This website is being written in the hope that it can help prevent some of these needless human tragedies. In Deuteronomy, one of the great books of Hebrew law, God is recorded as saying: ‘See, I have set before you this day life and good and death and evil …. Choose life.’ That’s the choise we face every morning. Anyone who wants to enhance their well-being should make a firm vow to lead a rich and abundant life by following the on-going, incremental programme of self improvement offered on this site.

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