by Dana Lancer
An extensive study headed by the Department of Gerontology at the University of Florida has documented concrete evidence that the human aging process “just plain bites,” according to its lead authors. Results of the study will appear this month in Today’s Elderly Tomorrow, a major gerontology journal.
The research combined objective data measuring the changes in physical and mental function that accompany aging after age fifty with subjective reports from over six thousand senior citizens in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Forty-three percent of the respondents live in Florida. “It was natural that our department head up the study,” commented Dr. Virgil Velho, the department’s senior professor and chair. “We had access to the best and most ample data. After all, Florida is geezer central.”
Among the study’s most striking conclusions is the finding that there is virtually nothing positive about the aging process. “It’s quite incredible,” remarked Velho. “We all age—every single one of us—and yet we could not find one shred of evidence that there was anything good in it for anyone. It was a complete bummer.”
While there were positive aspects documented by the study, these were consistently cancelled out by corresponding disadvantages of aging. For example, while many of the respondents reported being “more satisfied with life,” “happier,” and “more contented with one’s self” as they aged, corresponding objective data indicated that such perspectives were entirely the result of self-delusion or outright dementia. “The happier people were, the more evident it was that they were just losing their marbles,” reported Dr. Hermione Crone, who directed the psychological aspects of the study. “It was actually kind of pathetic,” she added.
There were few surprises in the data concerning the physical symptoms of aging. “Stiffness, unsteadiness, myopia, loss of energy, the need to pee a whole lot more often—we expected all of that,” reported Dr. Carlin Bagg, who compiled that data. “What we didn’t expect is that regular exercise, proper diet and a rich social life—normally thought to be mitigating factors in aging—didn’t matter one bit. It just dragged out the misery for a few more years. Basically, all of our preventive techniques just make an already crappy life even crappier.”
The study was so disturbing that the research team considered not publishing it. “We were all so depressed after we wrote up the results,” said Velho. “Several of our colleagues started binge drinking. Two of our best statisticians took off in the direction of the Lesser Antilles and haven’t been heard from since.” But in the end, the decision was made to release the results. “A lot of us are nearing retirement and we didn’t want to end our professional careers as failures,” said Velho. “Retirement promises to be shitty enough as it is.”