Although a lifetime may seem long, it does not seem so when we examine it in terms of decades rather than years. Only one person in 10,000 lives beyond their tenth decade.
First Decade (age 0 to 9) – Age of dependency. Our mothers must feed us and clean us. We learn to walk and talk. We start our education.
Second Decade (age 10 to 19) – Discovery of sexuality. Raging hormones awake our awareness of the opposite sex. We have to learn to channel our primal impulses within the rules of society. Our ability to think logically starts to develop.
Third Decade (age 20 to 29) – Early adulthood. We feel independent. We try to find a comfortable niche within society with our first real job and our own partner and family.
Fourth Decade (age 30 to 39) – The prime of life. We have figured out how the world works. We think that we know what we want. We raise our children, and we plan for our future.
Fifth Decade (age 40 to 49) – Middle age. Although we don’t feel old during this decade, the chances of living to twice this age are not very good. We may have a mid-life crisis that forces us to evaluate our life and try to make it better, but it is not easy to change because we have to live within the constraints of our work, family structure, and social environment.
Sixth Decade (age 50 to 59) – Age of biological decline. We become aware of wrinkles, gray hair, arthritis pains, menopause, and decreased libido. We listen more carefully to advertisements about Cialis and Viagra. We become eligible for membership in AARP. We need reading glasses.
Seventh Decade (age 60 to 69) – Retirement age. We become eligible for Medicare. If we are lucky and have planned well, we can stop working and start traveling or doing community service. If we have not saved enough to afford retiring, we have to continue working. If our health is not good, we now take medicines for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Eight Decade (age 70 to 79) – Age of decreased mobility. The little pains of twenty years ago have increased so that now they impede what were normal activities. Visits to doctors become more frequent. We may need a cane, hernia surgery, or cataract surgery. Our age spots are harder to cover. Our circle of friends starts to shrink as they start to die. Heart attacks, strokes, and cancer take their toll.
Ninth Decade (age 80 to 89) – Age of assisted living. Even if we can still take care of ourselves, we may need somebody to help us clean the house, go shopping for us, or prepare our food. Health problems become more severe. We may become incontinent and have to wear adult diapers. Most people will not live beyond this decade.
Tenth Decade (age 90 to 99) – Pre-centenarian. Congratulations! if you have made this far, it means that you have good genes, fewer or less severe health problems than the average person, and good family support. If you are still active, you may live to be a centenarian. The life expectancy at age 90 is 3.8 years, and by age 99 the life expectancy drops to 2.1 years. Every day may be a struggle for life. There can be digestive problems, cardiovascular problems, mobility problems, or immune system problems on any given day.