Centenarians and Theories of Aging
Centenarian: A person who has lived 100 years or more. Less than 1% of the world population is centenarians. Young adults need to be reminded that ageism makes people notice exceptions rather general truths. Surprisingly, researchers who study centenarians find that some are active and in good health, hoping to live several more years. Furthermore, although many people older than 100 are impaired, most of them, with or without disabilities, are content, even happy. According to every study of centenarians, the idea that older people are suffering, sad, and irritable is contrary to the evidence.
Nonetheless, most scientists agree with Hayflick that anti-aging is delusional. Some go farther: They fear that trying to stop senescence not only wastes time and money but also undermines health. As a leading physician wrote:
I consider the fixation on anti-aging and life extension to be a distraction from the important goal of healthy aging. That is, we should concentrate on making positive lifestyle choices now-eating better, exercising more, getting enough sleep, even improving our mental state- so that we can enjoy not just a longer life but a healthier one. Such a life would also end in due course, but the decline would be rapid. The scientific term for this is compression of morbidity, literally squeezing the period of disability and decline at the end of life into as short a period as possible. Live long and well, then have a rapid drop-off at the end.
In our book, page 510, there is an article, A View from Science, “Trying to live past the Maximum”. “A large number of genes have been isolated and identified that influence aging and longevity in nematodes (microscopic worm), fruit flies and rodents. In humans as well, several alleles (any of several forms of a gene, usually arising through mutation, that are responsible for hereditary variation) are called longevity genes: people who inherit them live to 90, 100,...