From the editor

We shrink

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 9:00am

Margaret Hamilton cried, "I'm melting," when Dorothy threw a pail of water on her in the "Wizard of Oz."

I almost cried "I'm shrinking" — actually, I kind of chuckled — after my height was measured at the doctor's office recently. In high school, I was 5'8" and 3/8" and I think the last time I got measured before last week, I was 5'8". Now I am 5'7" and 3/4". I have shrunk just shy of an inch in about 45 years. Ms. Hamilton went from 5’0”  to zero in a matter of seconds, thanks to movie magic!

Now, I knew that people shrink as they age (the discs between the vertebrae dry out and compress, osteoporosis, loss of muscle and other factors) but I never knew how much. According to the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging published in 2015, which I found online, "women lost an average of two inches between the ages of 30 and 70 (and just over three inches by age 80). Men lost a little more than an inch by age 70 (and two inches by age 80).

Height loss can be an indicator of other health problems but according to the study, "many people with markedly diminished stature remain perfectly healthy."

I am probably partly to blame for dwindling stature. In an older study done in Belgium as mentioned in the article, "people who did moderate aerobic exercise throughout their lives shrank less than those who were sedentary all their lives." My bad.

Not much has changed. The only thing now, instead of looking almost directly at the bullseye on a dartboard (standard height of 5'8"), I've got to tilt my head ever so slightly back before throwing the dart.

Just a normal part of life. There are other more serious aging problems us sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians and older persons need to be concerned with.