Do you want to live forever?

The pursuit of youth and desire to remain young niggles.  Just yesterday a friend and I were walking through an area filled with young people.  We admired their youth and talked about the beauty of youth in our own children.  In almost the same breath we both agreed that we love being exactly our age (we’re both baby boomers), despite our grey hair, wrinkles, age spots, saggy knees, and the increasing appearance of veins in our legs.

So, when I read or see stories about David Sinclair’s pursuit to develop an anti-ageing pill I become a little annoyed.  When my 12-year-old daughter saw the story in the Good Weekend recently, she had this to say:

“Trying to stop ageing is like trying to stop the clock.  Why would you want to do that?  All those experiences.  Dying is part of life.  Another experience.  Isn’t that what life is about?  Experiences?  You miss out on a whole adventure.”

Stopping or reversing the clock on ageing has a hint of a suggestion that ageing is not what we want.  That somehow youth is better.

But wait, I hear my detractors say.  This is not about the pursuit of youth.

This is about the pursuit of being able to be healthier as we age.  To only suffer for a short time, not a long time.

OK.  I get that.  And if an anti-ageing pill means we’ll be able to avoid or postpone chronic diseases such as cancer and heart conditions, then maybe investment in an anti-ageing pill is worthwhile.  Certainly Google sees potential benefit in this area of scientific research as they recently invested $250m in an anti-ageing research centre.

However, regardless of science I don’t believe that an anti-ageing pill is a potential cure for what ails many people in our ageing population.

In fact Professor Linda Fried of Columbia University believes in healthy ageing and has suggested that we have created a new stage in life where we don’t know it’s purpose, meaning or objectives, and thus we fill it with our fears.  For a period of time Professor Fried operated as a geriatrician in Baltimore, and she observed that many of the ills experienced by her patients were as a result of not having meaning or purpose in their lives.  Due to her strong commitment and belief in a healthier and positive ageing population she co-founded Experience Corps. and through her participation in the Global Agenda Council on Ageing, a special project of the World Economic Forum, is able to contribute to the debate, discussion and agenda on ageing globally.

There are numerous voluntary organisations in Australia.  And, a previous blog post talked about the value of work and the contribution it can make to positive ageing.

But wait.

There’s more.

This article suggests that an anti-ageing pill is a hubristic notion and discusses the science of ageing and why an anti-ageing pill is still a long way off.  What I like most about this piece is in the last paragraph. We already have proven knowledge about what slows ageing and delays or prevents age-related illnesses.  It’s not an anti-ageing pill.  It’s a good diet filled with vegetables, fruit, and grains combined with good physical exercise.

Me?  I’ll follow the diet and physical exercise approach to ageing.

Why?  Because I don’t believe any pill can assist anyone with being a happier, healthier more positive person if we haven’t got the basics right.

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