Contributor: Luba Machekhina
Origin/Afiliation: senior research fellow
laboratory of age-related metabolic and endocrine diseases
Russian gerontology research centre
Space has always been the most attractive and mysterious place for the entire humanity, and still, it remains the most unknown. Children believe in miracles, which happen beyond the stars, grown-ups want to find the answers to many fundamental scientific questions; from famous Gagarin’s “Let’s go!” to Armstrong’s little huge steps and now on – we are still searching for its limits.
No wonder, why the very recent Jeff Bezos’ flight was in the centre of everyone’s attention, but not only because of the Blue Origin project this time…One of the astronauts was 82-year-old Mary Wallance Funk, a pilot, who back in 1960 was employed by NASA, but never had a chance to board a rocket.
All good things come to those, who can wait, isn’t it? Looking at this smiling grey-haired lady in the official picture I suddenly felt so inspired, like sometimes I feel while seeing some of my energetic geriatric patients.
Back to Earth, having my holiday now in the North Caucasus region of Russia, which is famous for its centenarians, I look around for more inspiration. Thanks to mild climate, mineral water springs and mountains with long walking routes surrounding Pyatigorsk (“the city of 5 mountains”) older people here never look like their age. On the contrary, most of the time I felt like I am the one, who needs to try and be more fit, just to be able to follow them. During one of my walks, when I did my best to climb Beshtau mountain (1400 m) and on the way back, crawling, out of my breath and with tachycardia I met a cheerful lady, who turned out to be a 78-year-old local citizen with a nice plan “to climb Elbrus [5642 m, the highest peak in Europe] next summer – just need to train a little bit more”.
Hats off, ladies and gentlemen! I am definitely not planning to die at 75, because who knows, how high I can go (or fly), if only I train a little bit more.
16.08.21, Pyatigorsk, North Caucasus, Russia
Older citizen of Pyatigorsk
The top of Beshtau Mountain