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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/792

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Having thus endeavored to show the extent to which human life may be prolonged, and having examined some of the causes or antecedents of longevity, the last subject for inquiry is the means by which it may be attained. Certain preliminary conditions are obviously requisite; in the first place there must be a sound constitution derived from healthy ancestors, and in the second there must be a freedom from organic disease of important organs. Given an individual who has reached the grand climacteric, or threescore and ten, and in whom these two conditions are fulfilled, the means best adapted to maintain and prolong his life constitute the question to be solved. It has been said that "he who would long to be an old man must begin early to be one," but very few persons designedly take measures in early life in order that they may live longer than their fellows.

The whole term of life may be divided into the three main periods of growth and development, of maturity, and of decline. No hard and fast line can be drawn between these two latter phases of existence: the one should pass gradually into the other until the entire picture is changed. Diminished conservative power and the consequent triumph of disintegrating forces are the prominent features of the third period, which begins at different times in different individuals, its advent being mainly controlled by the general course of the preceding years. The "turning period," also known as the "climacteric" or "middle age," lies between forty-five and sixty; the period beyond may be considered as belonging to advanced life or old age. The majority of the changes characteristic of these last stages are easily recognizable. It is hardly necessary to mention the wrinkled skin, the furrowed face, the "crow's feet" beneath the eyes, the stooping gait, and the wasting of the frame. The senses, notably vision and hearing, become less acute; the power of digestion is lessened; the force of the heart is diminished; the lungs are less permeable; many of the air-cells lose their elasticity and merge into each other, so that there is less breathing surface as well as less power. Simultaneously with these changes the mind may present signs of enfeeblement; but in many instances its powers long remain in marked contrast with those of the body. One fact connected with advanced life is too often neglected. It should never be forgotten that while the "forces in use" at that period are easily exhausted, the "forces in reserve" are often so slight as to be unable to meet the smallest demand. In youth, the vires in posse are superabundant; in advanced life, they are reduced to a minimum, and in some instances are practically non-existent. The recognition of this difference is an all-important guide in laying down rules for conduct in old age.

In order to prolong life and at the same time to enjoy it, occu-