Living longer seems to be the new normal. Some people feel younger in older age. However, not all people share this aging experience. So what is ageless aging? And what does the science of human longevity know about living longer, better?
People are living longer than ever before; however, aging seems to be a relative experience.
While aging is a biological fact, scientists are working to slow and even reverse aging to ease the burdens of living longer.
Scientists are trying to determine how and why humans age; they are researching possible technologies that support ageless aging.
Practicing healthy habits can support quality of life at any age.
Is age really only a number?
Aging is inevitable. Or is it? If 60 is the new 40, as the saying goes, what is the new 60? 80 or beyond? Aging might be inevitable, but how one travels through older adulthood varies.
In the US, an individual is eligible to apply for Medicare at age 65. Some see this as the age of “being old.” However, for governmental purposes, this arbitrary number was chosen in the late 1800s — when the average life expectancy was 45 years. Sixty-five, seemingly young in modern terms, stuck.
Current statistics show people can expect to live an average of 76 years. However, many individuals remain vital and active as they near 100.
A person’s chronological age, how many calendar years have passed, may not correlate with their biological age, which is how well the body is maintaining optimal functioning.
Many people are embracing ageless aging — when calendar years don’t match how they look and feel. Additionally, scientific data is also showing more support for ageless aging.
While public attitudes about growing older are changing, researchers continue to investigate the causes of biological aging. The question for scientists is if human cells are ageless, continuously regenerating and replacing themselves, why do humans experience disease and decline of old age?
And more importantly, how can science slow or even reverse aging?
Why we age
Right now, science does not agree on why biological aging happens. What research does acknowledge is that human cells eventually lose the ability to keep dividing and growing, which leads to the body’s progressive worsening. This is called senescence (aging happens).
There are multiple, complex theories on why senescence occurs: free-radical damage, inflammation, immune malfunctions, lifestyle impacts, genetics, environmental pollution, hormonal causes, DNA damage, or something else yet to be determined.
There is no doubt that modern nutrition, hygiene, medicines, and healthcare access increases longevity. Some scientists want to go further still to find the keys to unlock the potential for ageless aging, promoting longer quality of life that may ease the multifactorial hardships of older age.
Burdens of aging
While people are living longer, there are unintended consequences. Unfortunately, living longer does not always equate to living better. This motivates the ageless age research because the current aging crisis comes with costs.
Here are a few things to consider:
- For the aging. Frailty, chronic diseases, and other physical debilitations are a high price to pay for older adults living longer. Social roles change as well for older adults. For example, peers pass away, or they can lose cultural engagement. These losses add up to an inability to find overall meaning in life.
- For families. Formalized care must be initiated when one’s elders can no longer live independently. Some adult children become caregivers, while others turn to professionals. Either way, the coordination of care can weigh heavily on all involved — potentially leading to caregiver burnout.
- For the healthcare system. With the projected cost of Medicare topping $6 trillion by 2027, researchers are pushing forward in identifying how to predict and support healthier longevity.
How science embraces ageless aging?
While immorality is most likely improbable, finding out how to slow the rate of aging while reducing disease and cellular decline is on the horizon.
For example, one recent study developed a comprehensive approach that includes a focus on gut health, vitamin D supplements, hormone therapies, and pharmaceutical medications.
New innovations such as unique stem-cell applications, 3D printing of tissues, using nano-devices to deliver drugs to specific sites, and the use of oral medications to protect the body from age-related dysregulation are already in the pipeline.
Both independent and government-funded research in quality human longevity is gaining moment. Aging brings heavy burdens for society as a whole. Answers to this age-old question, "How is science embracing ageless aging?" seem within reach.
The first steps to better longevity
One thing modern medicine can agree on is that a person’s lifestyle choices are an easy first step to promoting ageless aging. It has been proven that certain health habits should be incorporated into daily routines to support well-being in later years:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Getting daily exercise
- Avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol
- Establishing a good sleep routine
- Actively reducing stress every day
- Developing good relationships and social interactions
Deciding to embrace these opportunities for better well-being may encourage improved biological aging. Feeling good brings quality and quantity of life together to feel ageless at any age.
People are living longer than most thought possible, even 50 years ago. Extending quality of life during those years is now the goal. This goal may be attainable with technologies and medications inconceivable even just a few years ago. Understanding how people age and why and the development and application of science-based solutions could enhance the human aging process. With the addition of personal health routines, ageless aging has a bright future.