Health Topics

Healthy Living

Successful Ageing
Prof Adrian Kennedy
"... Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

- William Shakespeare in As You Like It

The last stage, vold age, can continue till the age of 69, which is the mortality age in India; in the West, it continues till the age of 79, which is the age of mortality there.

Many people, irrespective of the country they reside in, live longer than the average; long livers can be defined as people who live beyond the age of 90. Scientifically recorded, the longest living human died at the age of 113. This article deals with research pertaining to successful ageing. In popular parlance, this is referred to as age reversal.
Theories of ageing
Research done on human cells, indicates that in completely sterile conditions, human cells can survive for almost 120 years. This is known as the Cellular Theory of Ageing, which indicates that human cells have a fixed lifespan, which slowly diminishes in capacity over time.

The Genetic or Heredity Theory of Ageing suggests that our genetics decides our longevity and that ageing and lifespan depend on family genes; in other words, we live somewhat as long as our parents. A simple formula to help you ascertain your approximate lifespan would be to add the ages of your deceased grandparents and parents, and then, divide it by the number of deceased members. However, there are several weaknesses in this system. First, it presupposes that mortality or death will be due to old age, but very often, death could be premature and due to injury or an epidemic. Further, more often than not, the calculation is inaccurate due to the lack of details pertaining to grandparents and ancestry.

The current theory on ageing is the Wear and Tear Theory or the Lifestyle Theory. According to this theory, we will live longer if we adhere to a good healthy lifestyle, and body abuse, irrespective of genes, will result in a relatively earlier demise.
In order to calculate the probable age of demise by this theory, we must begin with the genetic age. If for any reason, you are unable to determine this age because your grandparents are still alive, the next best option is the national average. From this (genetic age or national average), you add or minus one year depending on the impact of negative or positive lifestyle factors that are relevant to you. For example, if you exercise daily, you can add one year, but if you do not, you should minus one year.

Effects of Ageing @1% less per year (post the age of 20)
  • Loss of memory
  • Reduced taste and smell
  • Reduced hearing and vision
  • Reduced cardiac capability
  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Reduced strength, flexibility, and speed
  • Reduced metabolism
  • Reduced sexual libido
  • Loss of hair and skin elasticity

Types of age

Age according to your date of birth is referred to as your chronological or legal age. Age according to your body condition is known as physical or medical age. We know of many 60 year olds who are fit and active, and many 40 year olds, who are less fit and capable than their 60 year old counterparts. Medical ailments such as heart attacks, cancer, arthritis, etc. are all largely age related.

Young individuals who have these and other such degenerative ailments are referred to as being in a state of accelerated ageing. Thus, a 60-year-old person could be equal to a 40-year-old person and vice-versa. Then, there is also the psychological age, which is largely a matter of attitude. We see many young people who are old-fashioned, regimented, and orthodox; on the other hand, there are many older people who behave younger than their equivalently-aged counterparts, for example a 60-year–old person, who is socially active, mixes with younger age groups, has a job, and so on.
Effects of ageing
Each of our body cells, whether skin, muscle, or bone, reduces in efficiency as we age. Some, such as skin, hair, nails, blood, etc., survive only for days and weeks but are immediately replaced. However, with each replacement post puberty, the cell efficiency reduces. Other cells, such as in muscles, bones, and the brain, last a lifetime; these deteriorate and are replaced slowly. In general, we may say that post puberty, i.e., (after the age 20) the body reduces its capability and capacity by 1% every year.
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