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Take a Number: Five Ways to Look at Age

One for the Ages

Satchel Paige was a great baseball pitcher, one of the greatest
of all time. He was an African-American and, due to the racial
discrimination of the time, most of his outstanding career was
not spent in the (white) major leagues. However, after the historic
breakthrough by the courageous and talented Jackie Robinson (Mr.
Paige’s junior by about 14 years), Satchel Paige pitched in the
major leagues for a number of years. In fact, he was still able to
get major league batters out Age calculator at the age of 60! (Mr. Paige’s age at
his retirement from baseball is not known for certain because no
one, probably including Mr. Paige himself, knew his exact year
of birth; some thought he was older than 60). Mr. Paige revealed
a mind as sharp as the break on his curve ball when he asked this
profound question for the ages:

“How old would you be if you did not know how old you are?”

These writings are dedicated to the memory of Satchel Paige and to
all the so-called “over-the-hill” guys and gals in every sport and
in every area of life, from Churchill and Reagan in politics to
Jessica Tandy in acting and Paul McCartney in fatherhood. They
and many like them in the past and present will be joined by many
more in the future who are not really “over the hill” because they
are too busy taking the hill.

Five Ways to Look at Age

Chronological Age

The most common way to look at age is the Chronological.
This is the one that everyone is familiar with. It is simply the time
that has passed since your date of birth to today. It is the one that
governments and insurance companies require of you and that
your Doctor knows, even if your boy friend doesn’t. It is a
unidimensional measure because it considers only time. It is
uniform because everybody who is 48 years, 6 months, and 3
weeks old is exactly that, chronologically. People who view age
only from the chronological perspective are somewhere between
dumb and dumber.

True Age

True Age is another and better way to look at your age. True age
is basically what a measurement of all the biomarkers of aging would
reveal about you. Here’s four points about true age. One, if a well-trained physician
did NOT know how old you are but reviewed a print-out of your
biomarkers, she or he could accurately estimate your true age. Two,
your true age is not uniform but varies by individual: you can be
younger or older than your chronological age. Three, true age is
multidimensional rather than confined to time. Four, absolutely
nothing can be done about chronological age because it is fixed, but
a great deal can be done about true age.

Appearance Age

Appearance Age is the age you appear to be to others. It no
doubt has some relationship to both chronological age and true
age. Yet it is different. This is because it is heavily influenced by
a number of factors outside the scope of biomarker measurement,
not the least of which is attitude. We all know people that appear
to be quite a bit younger or older than their chronological age.
But the only scientific way to measure a person’s appearance age
would be to have a representative sample of the population observe
a person for at least a few minutes. A quick glance is not sufficient
because appearance age includes factors such as movement of
the body and alertness, not just a frozen face. Then the estimates
from all members of the representative sample would be gathered,
simple statistical measures applied, and Voila! You have the
person’s appearance age. Of course, unless we are part of a study,
none of us will ever get this scientific about it. We will just have
to rely on random comments from friends, family, and nice or
mean strangers to estimate our appearance age; and usually it’s a
pretty good estimate.

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