Archive for the ‘Gerontology’ Category

In a fascinating new study our ideas of old age are challenged..

Professor Tom Kirkwood has demolished a string of misconceptions about the ageing process with a groundbreaking study into the health of more than 1,000 older people in the 85-plus generation. “Its a myth that they are bowls of misery, unhappy with their lot, and always going on about ailments,” he insists. “Four out of five of them actually think they are doing pretty well.”His study, the largest of its kind ever undertaken, has proved revealing on several fronts. For a start, people in the 85-plus range are generally much happier, and more independent, than is generally realised. Remarkably, 80% of a group carefully selected by the Kirkwood team – a fair sample of the UK population of this age – need little care. Around the same number rate their quality of life either good or excellent.On the downside, 20% need either regular daily help or critical 24-hour care. All of which might be almost manageable for the state, and for society, if this age range was static. But, as the amiable Kirkwood never tires of reminding questioners, the 85-plus group is now the fastest-growing segment of the population.

via Research dispels old myths about ageing | Society | The Guardian.

..Of course, this has huge implications for the cost of caring. Revealingly, in tracking 17 activities of daily living among survey participants – from dealing with finances to cooking and shopping – researchers found that men fared better than women; a third managed all 17 without help, compared with a sixth of women. Although women live, on average, five to six years longer than men, the study has found that their disabilities become greater with age.
Highly recommended reading.

“This house wants to defeat ageing entirely”
Dr Aubrey de Grey (proposing) and Professor Colin Blakemore (opposing)

Follow the link for the second part

A public debate organized by Oxford University Science Society, held in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on April 25th, 2012.

Highly recommended

Discovery Channel documentary show about curious questions in science, technology, society etc. In each episode different question is being answered or is tried to be answered, featuring different celebrity host.

Season 01, Episode 11 : Can You Live Forever?

Air Date : October 16, 2011

Host : Adam Savage

The year is 2032. You have just celebrated your 80th birthday and you have some tough decisions ahead. You can either keep repairing your current body or move into a new one. The growing of “blank” bodies has become all the rage, and by using your own genetic material, body farmers can even recreate your own face at age 20. In just 20 years, this is an industry that has moved from the equivalent of Frankenstein’s laboratory to the new celebrity craze, with controversy following it every step of the way. The combination of a few high profile “accidents” along the way, coupled with those in the religious community who claim that body farmers are playing God, and asking “where does our soul reside?” has given it thousands of top media headlines around the world. Every person on the planet has a different opinion about this moral dilemma, or whether its safe or dangerous, or whether we should just get better at repairing our existing bodies. As medical advances continue, and we devise an entirely new range of health-enhancing options, I propose we set a new standard, raising the bar to the highest possible level. I propose we put an end to human death.  

Keep on reading..
Via www.futuristspeaker.com

The human brain is the greatest scientific challenge, yet the scourge of brain disorders urgently demands progress. Fortunately, building on recent advances in neuroscience and many other disciplines, new ideas, tools, and modes of organization promise significant movement forward.Steven E. Hyman served as Provost of Harvard University from 2001 through 2011 and also serves as Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He is a leading scholar at the intersection of molecular neuroscience, molecular biology, and psychiatry. Dr. Hyman also served as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1996 to 2001. Hyman’s tenure there was marked by intensified efforts to bring molecular biolgy, genetics, neuroscience, and behavioral science all to bear, in integrated ways, on the understanding of mental illness and mental health.

Will 250 be the new 100 in the foreseeable future? Human life expectancy has made steady gains over the last two centuries, and anti-aging scientists seeking to spare human cells and DNA from the corrosion once deemed inevitable are eager to trigger a radical extension in our life spans. How likely is such a spike? And how desirable is it to live to be a quarter of a millennium? Will life-extending scientific breakthroughs translate into an interminable twilight for many, or will they also postpone aging?

Please join us to learn about the state of life-extending research, and to ponder some of the wrenching philosophical, societal and actuarial (et tu, Social Security?) questions raised by the efforts to radically grow life expectancy.

Never Say Die: A Future Tense Event

H\T Accelerating Future