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Really old -time fun

3 July 2011

Juanita Jean notes the dropping life expectancy of Texas women.  “Thanks” to Rick Perry and Texas Republican policies (according to Juanita, who— being a Texan and a woman — has a dog in this hunt) in several counties women can expect to live a shorter life than their Mexican sisters:

Milam was the one Central Texas county where women lost longevity between 1997 and 2007 — 0.8 years. Women there had a life expectancy of 78.2 years in 2007 — lower than women in Estonia, Mexico, Cuba, Albania, Slovakia and Argentina.

Patsy Gaines, director of the Milam County Health Department, was not entirely surprised. Health services have been cut instead of expanded to meet the community’s needs, she said.

Texas probably would have seen a further decline if it wasn’t for the “Hispanic paradox”:  persons of Latin American descent tend to have a longer life expectancy than others in the United States, with immigrants having an even  higher life expectancy than U.S. born “hispanics” despite being more likely to be part of the economic or social groups that usually have a shorter life expectancies (i.e., the poor).

I don’t think she’d particularly want to, but perhaps Doña Mariana Bojórquez Angulo might be persuaded to move north of the border. Though, come to think of it, getting a passport for Doña Mariana might be a problem, since no one can locate a birth certificate, but if she did move to Milam County, she’d probably reverse the statistics on a declining life expectancy all by herself.  Her 106-year old daughter is fairly certain the Mazatlan woman is around 125 years old.

Although a broken hip has confined her to a wheel-chair, the great-great-great-great grandmother is otherwise in good health, and plans to live to be 150. Hard work and sleeping soundly every night might have something to do with Doña Mariana’s longevity, but I’d venture the real secret is that she likes to sing … just for the sheer fun of it.

Photo of Mariana Bojórquez Angulo by Luis Brito, Noroeste

Maybe the “hispanic paradox” isn’t so much paradoxical as just something no one’s figured out how to measure.   I still have the little red garnet I bought on the street in Mexico City from a guy in his 80s… mostly because when I asked if the three year old with him was his grandson, he gave me an amusing explanation of how red garnets were to guarantee one’s potency, and added that the three year old kid was not his grandson, but his son.

Probably not true (the part about the son, anyway), and I don’t think a five peso sale was going to make or break the guy, but he sure seemed to be enjoying himself.

Neither the trinket salesman nor Doña Mariana are exactly from the upper strata of socio-economic privilege, nor are most of the spry  octogenarians and even nonagenarians  I’ve run across in this country.  And what keeps them going… and probably the quasquicentenarian[i] Mazatleca, too… is that they still find ways to enjoy their lives.  They have fun.


[i] Yup… that’s a real word… which was a lot of fun to find, no doubt adding a couple of seconds to my life expectancy!

One Comment leave one →
  1. ... permalink
    4 July 2011 8:16 am

    Do you know the colonial saying ‘cuando el indio encanece el español no parece’?
    It’s a common idea that given a half-decent lifestyle, indian people or people of mostly indian descent live for many years. They also keep their hair black well into their sixties.

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