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Thursday, July 30, 2009

First review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002

The Commission for Social Development,

Recalling the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing,
,adopted by the Second World Assembly on Ageing, held in
Madrid from 8 to 12 April 2002, and bearing in mind that continuing
the systematic review of its implementation by Member States is
essential for its success in improving the quality of life of older

Taking note of the report by the Secretary-General entitled
“Further implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on
Ageing: strategic implementation framework”,2 which was based on
the results of the global first review and appraisal of the Madrid Plan
of Action that involved inputs from Member States and the United
Nations system, with the participation of civil society actors,

the need to incorporate gender perspective in all
measures concerning older persons,

Recognizing the important role of various intergovernmental
organizations that deal with training, capacity-building, policy design
and monitoring at the national and regional levels, in order to promote
and facilitate the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action,

1. Calls upon Member States to continue their efforts in the
implementation of the Madrid Plan of International Action on Ageing,
2002,19 through, inter alia, national strategies and policies, improving
data collection and sharing ideas, information and good practices,
bearing in mind the report of the Secretary-General containing the
strategic framework for future implementation of the Madrid Plan20
and the Guide to the National Implementation of the Madrid
International Plan of Action on Ageing prepared by the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs of the Secretariat, which is intended to
assist Member States in focusing on the implementation of the Madrid
Plan of Action;

2. Invites Member States to determine their priorities for the
coming years by, inter alia, building on those areas in which they had
achieved success during the review and appraisal process, while paying
special attention to areas where shortcomings had been identified, with
a view to improving policy development;

3. Encourages Member States to continue their efforts to
mainstream the concerns of older persons into their policy agendas,
bearing in mind the crucial importance of family intergenerational
interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity for social development and
the realization of all human rights for older persons, and to prevent age
discrimination and to provide social integration;

4. Urges Member States to consider including in their national
strategies, inter alia, policy implementation approaches, such as
empowerment and participation, awareness-raising and capacity
development, and such essential policy implementation tools as
evidence-based policymaking, mainstreaming and participatory
approaches and suggested indicators, as presented in the report of the

5. Calls upon Member States to adopt appropriate measures,
including, if necessary, legislative measures to promote and protect the
rights of older persons and measures aimed at providing economic
security and health care, while mainstreaming a gender perspective,
full participation of older persons in the decision-making process
affecting their lives and ageing with dignity;

6. Calls upon Member States to take concrete measures to
further protect and assist older persons in emergency situations, in
accordance with the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing;

7. Recommends that Member States strengthen their networks of
national focal points on ageing, work with the regional commissions to
exchange best practices and undertake a range of awareness-raising
activities, including enlisting the assistance of the Department of
Public Information of the Secretariat to expand media coverage on
ageing issues;

8. Also recommends that Member States reach out to older
persons and the organizations that represent them, providing them with
needed information, and soliciting their feedback to make the national
implementation process inclusive;

9. Invites Member States as well as all other major national and
international stakeholders to continue their cooperation with the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, as the United Nations
global focal point on ageing, in further implementing the Madrid Plan
of Action;

10. Invites Member States to continue reviewing their national
capacity for policy development concerning older persons and
demographic ageing, with a view to implementing appropriate
measures to enhance their national capacity in this area of policy
development, as necessary;

11. Encourages Member States to promote the development of
regional and subregional networks of experts and practitioners from
government, non-governmental organizations, academia and the
private sector in order to increase the potential for policy action on

12. Encourages the international community, including
international and bilateral donors, to enhance international cooperation,
in keeping with internationally agreed goals, to support national efforts
to eradicate poverty, in order to achieve sustainable social and
economic support for older persons, including by strengthening their
national capacity in the area of policy development and
implementation, regarding older persons, while bearing in mind that
countries have the primary responsibility for their own economic and
social development;

13. Also encourages the international community and the relevant
organizations of the United Nations system, within their respective
mandates, to support national and regional efforts and to provide
funding for research and data-collection initiatives on ageing in order
to better understand the challenges and opportunities presented by
population ageing and to provide policymakers with more accurate and
specific information on ageing and gender, such as for policy planning,
monitoring and evaluation;

14. Invites the United Nations system to strengthen within
existing resources its capacity to support international action on
ageing, with a view to deepening understanding of issues related to
ageing, including the effectiveness of related policy measures, and
requests the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States
regarding possible mechanisms to improve the implementation of the
Madrid Plan of Action, including on the basis of the report of the
Secretary-General,20 to be presented during the forty-eighth session of
the Commission for Social Development;

15. Requests the Secretary-General to submit to the Commission for
Social Development, at its forty-eighth session, a report on the
implementation of the present resolution.

July 27th 2009

Source: http://www.globalaging.org/agingwatch/events/CSD/mipaa+5_files/draftresolution2009.pdf

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Crime against Senior Citizens on rise, my heart bleeds………….

Its happening nearly every morning, it’s very shocking and sad to read Elderly being murdered and robbed in our daily newspaper!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All over the country especially in metro cities the cases of crime and abuse against Senior Citizens is on rise. Fraud and violence against the elderly is on rise in crime graph. In Mumbai at least 10 Senior Citizens have been murdered from Jan 2009 to July 2009.

Senior citizens increasingly are being victimized by desperate people looking for soft targets.

It was believed and found that when seniors suffer physical, emotional and financial abuse, it's usually at the hands of relative or caregivers. But there is sharp rise in recent times in violence and financial fraud against the elderly by strangers and others who won their trust.

I think it’s about changing globalization and urbanization leading to change in lifestyle, unemployment and easy money concept. People are getting desperate for money. It's amazing and scary that Elderly are easy target.

Where is our tradition culture gone? Where we used to care, respect and loved our elderly. Now we are leaving our parents and elderly at mercy of our neighbors and professional caretakers or many times all alone.

We look at Law enforcement agency and government to look after our parents, who gave birth to us and who made us what we are today, is this society what we want????????

We forget our role, we forget role of civil society to be guardian to our elders, women’s, disabled and children’s. We all are equally responsible for all what is happening today from Elder Abuse, Global warming, Sexual exploitation, Communal disharmony….

My heart bleeds when Elders are abused, my heart cries when I hear the story of abandon and lonely parents. But I can’t sit quiet and let things happen, I will raise my voice in every forum, I will fight for Senior Citizens, I will continue my journey to serve Elderly in what ever way I can.

Lets join Hands to HELP and support the most ignored and neglected segment, the Elderly. Let’s empower them, let’s stand with them in their fight for their basic human right. Lets give them Safety and Dignity, lets add life to their years……….

What can be done by Civil Society and Government?

  1. All NGO/ organisation should come together and devise plan
  2. Police/ Government should meet representation of all the NGO /organisation working with Elderly
  3. Compulsory registration of elderly with local NGO/Police
  4. A HOTLINE with local police station, where a phone if put on hold for more then 20 seconds connects to local Police Station/HELPLINE
  5. Safety measures/gadgets should be promoted
  6. Youngsters should be involved , intergenerational programme should be encouraged
  7. Neighborhood watch concept should be promoted
  8. NSS/NCC/Scout/Guide to be involved
  9. Mass Awareness campaign
  10. Compulsory registration of service providers
  11. Effective Elder Law
  12. More Police and Senior Citizens meeting for Confidence building
  13. 4 Digit HELPLINE should be run by NGO with help of Police
  14. Nodal officers in each Police Station/Zone/Taluka/ District
  15. Fast Track court for Senior Citizens
  16. Sensitisation programme for Elderly and Civil Society
  17. More active participation programmes for Elderly
  18. More Day care /activity centers for Elderly
  19. Compulsory registration of people working at homes
  20. Education programme to stop scam and fraud
  21. Dos and Don’ts for seniors in local language
  22. National Commission for Senior Citizens
  23. Special Ministry for Senior Citizens
  24. Implementation of National Policy for Older Person(NPOP)
  25. Implementation of Senior Citizens Maintenance Act 2007

What can be done by Senior Citizens?

Majority of the offences against senior citizens are committed by the persons that are known to the victims, viz. servants, watchmen, relatives, vendors etc. .Such persons are generally not on police record. Information about servants is generally not provided to Police for the fear of losing household hands/servants.

DO'S AND DON'TS for Senior Citizens (some tips taken from Maharashtra Police website)

  1. Employ a servant after verifying his antecedents with the help of the nearest Police Station
  2. Do not give out information over the phone or email , especially bank account or credit card information
  3. Always carry an Identity Card with you
  4. Never discuss financial matters in front of servants/strangers
  5. Never open your cupboards/purse in front of servants/strangers
  6. Deposit your valuables in safe deposit vault of any Bank
  7. Treat your servants well
  8. Normally, do not encourage relatives or friends of your servant to visit your house. If at all he/she has any frequent visitors, get their antecedents checked from police.
  9. If you are staying alone, please inform your neighbors and also to the Secretary of your Housing Society
  10. Use of modern security gadgets like door alarm, electronic-eye bell etc is always advantageous. Consult professionals for installing such gadgets
  11. Join a NGO or Social Organisation
  12. Develop hobby and learn skill
  13. Take care of other Elderly
  14. Install a peephole and safety latch in the entrance door of your house and allow access only to the known and identified persons.
  15. Install double door system. It is always safer to deal with strangers without opening the main door or deal with them only after informing the neighbors or the security.
  16. Never leave spare keys or even the original keys in the open or in the conventional hiding places
  17. Verify the identity of any repairman, salesman etc and allow them access only after informing the security
  18. When you admit a workman or a salesman, do not leave him alone at any time
  19. You will be safest in bright, well lit and busy areas
  20. Stay alert to the surroundings while jogging or walking. Avoid using ear phones etc. at such times
  21. Keep emergency medicines and family doctor's numbers or emergency medical services (EMS)/HELPLINE numbers at hand

Love, Care and Respect Elderly

By Sailesh Mishra

Founder President,Silver Inning Foundation


Eight steps to achieve any goal

1) Know exactly what you want

This may sound obvious but unless you know exactly what you want, how can you achieve it? The more details, numbers, dates you can plan the better. You need a very clear focus of what you do want in order to receive it.

2) Write down your goals

This is one technique that sorts out the people who succeed and the people who fail. We are constantly reminded how important it is to write down your goals yet very very few of us do it. According to research you are 95% more likely to achieve your goal if it is written down. Enough said. Do it!

3) Believe

If you try and achieve a goal that you don't truly believe in, your subconscious mind will not allow you to achieve it. You'll only succeed in tearing yourself up inside. As Napoleon Hill said, 'Whatever the mind of a man can conceive and believe, it can achieve'

4) Remind yourself constantly of the goal

The more you repeat it to your subconscious mind, the more it will programmed in. There are a variety of techniques you can use including repeating affirmations or using subliminal software. If you spend a lot of time on your computer I recommend using software that flashes messages on your screen that only subconscious can pick up. I'm being flashed at as I write this!

5) Be passionate about your goal

You're far more likely to achieve your goal if it excites you. Think about all the benefits to you once you have achieved your goal. Imagine how you would feel, how would your life be different.

6)Break it down into bite size chunks

If you have really big goals then great. The only way you'll be big is to think big. However sometimes you may need to break it down into smaller intermediate goals. It makes it easier for you to believe its possible and it helps you organise yourself on a short, medium and long term.

7) Reward yourself along the way

Everytime you have some success make sure you reward yourself. It will help keep the desire and enthusiasm burning. It will also tell your subconscious mind you're achieving your goals.

8)Stay positive at all times

Ultimately the only person who can stop you achieving your goals is YOU. Fear and self doubt are common enemies but are only created in your mind. You must also make sure that you are concentrating on what you do want, not what you don't want.

Remember the only way you will fail is if you give up. Good Luck!

By Iain Legg

Source: http://www.flixya.com/post/wintertree/1654343/Eight_steps_to_achieve_any_goal

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grey Panthers

The second Bush administration had just begun and the American war in the Middle East was grinding along in its deadly, directionless way when I was contacted by an organizer with a New York City group called Grandmothers Against the War. Eighteen of her comrades had been arrested at the Times Square Recruiting Center the previous fall when they tried to enlist to replace the young people serving in Bush's occupation of Iraq. They were about to go on trial for allegedly blocking pedestrian traffic.

Over the next year and a half, I helped write and circulate many press releases for the Grandmothers. I sometimes took part in antiwar actions with them and other groups they worked with. I also started to learn more about these elder activists. They had a shrewd way of going against people's stereotypes about older people, while using those preconceptions creatively to connect with the public. It was fun, it got attention, and it fostered a more decentralized, inclusive activist culture.

That approach had its roots—as did some of the Grandmothers—with the Gray Panthers, one of the more remarkable movements to emerge from the 1960s. Superficially, the Panthers were a pressure group for the rights and dignity of the aged. But like other emblematic 1960s movements, including Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panther Party, they built their activism on a vision of a new society in which elderly people could achieve greater control of their lives by working through a model of community partly based on mutual aid. They challenged every social assumption about how and where the elderly should live, how they interact with younger people, and even how they should conduct their sex lives.

If that put them beyond the pale of much conventional politics, it also made them one of the most recognizable activist groups of the time. That's partly because the Gray Panthers wanted more than simply to secure more rights and resources for their "interest group." They sought to change the way the public viewed the elderly and, beyond that, the social role people were expected to play at every stage of life. They launched a nationwide Media Watch that spotted and called out stereotypical portrayals of the aged. Yet they also took full advantage in the early 1970s when the media became enchanted with the image of little old ladies and gentlemen forming picket lines and borrowing the name of a black revolutionary movement.

They returned the favor in 1973 when Bobby Seale was running for mayor of Oakland and the Black Panthers in that city were enduring intense pressure from police, FBI, and other agencies. As part of their Project SAFE (Seniors Against a Fearful Environment), the Oakland Gray Panthers arranged for Black Panther teams to escort seniors who lived in dangerous neighborhoods. An obvious and practical response to an everyday problem, it also emphasized the Gray Panthers' solidarity with the movements of other excluded and disadvantaged groups. It was part of an endlessly creative effort to muddle society's expectations and open up new possibilities for how groups like the elderly and inner-city African Americans could interact with each other.

The Gray Panthers have also persisted. Despite a period of decline and identity crisis, the organization survived and began to revitalize itself in the new century, meanwhile spreading its unique activist approach through groups like Grandmothers Against War. But the Panthers' social vision—which included intergenerational housing, community-run clinics emphasizing preventive care, and a linkage between social services and economic democracy—may be the most intriguing thing about them today. In the early years of the movement, that vision was built on the presumption that an affluent society should be able to perfect itself. But it also offers at least some partial answers to our current dilemma, namely, how to collectively define and fulfill our social needs at a time when government is retreating from the provision of social services and an increasingly rapacious economic elite fights to maintain its grip on power.

"Gray Panthers are out to make old a beautiful thing, not something to be hidden but something to be declared and affirmed," founder Maggie Kuhn said, explaining the Panthers' project. "The thing that we're up to is that life is a continuum and age is a period of fulfillment, of continued growth and creativity where the inputs, the experience of a lifetime can be related to the group of people who are coming into their creative productive years, and to our young people."

This conception of life has clear practical implications today, when more and more working families find themselves simultaneously raising children and caring for aging relatives. A fruitful place to start exploring such connections is the new book Gray Panthers, a long needed history of the movement, by Roger Sanjek, a sociologist who has also been an on-and-off participant for more than 30 years. His book is concise and slightly breathless as it crams a great deal of struggle, accomplishment, and personal drama into just under 300 pages.

The Gray Panthers conceived of themselves as a multigenerational movement and they worked on an astonishingly wide range of issues at once, including social justice and antiwar causes not directly related to aging. This is part of what continues to make them of interest to contemporary activists trying to forge connections between different but related struggles, and Sanjek was right to encompass as much of their story as possible in his book.

By far the highest-profile Gray Panther was Kuhn, a career activist, organizer, and program coordinator for the Young Women's Christian Association—and later the United Presbyterian Church—who began putting the idea together for a broad-based movement of socially conscious elderly when she herself faced mandatory retirement at 65. Sanjek does his best not to let Kuhn dominate his book, giving plenty of space to other important Gray Panthers, including Lillian Rabinowitz, who founded the Berkeley network, Frances Klafter, Elma Griesel, and New York organizers Lillian Sarno and Sylvia Wexler.

But the center of gravity keeps shifting back to Kuhn who emerges as a remarkable activist and visionary, as well as a media magnet who made the Panthers a pop cultural presence as well as an effective movement. Partly this was because she was an eloquent speaker and conversationalist and a deeply appealing presence. Her appearances with Phil Donahue and Johnny Carson were memorable and she was constantly in the news and in print media during the 1970s and 1980s. Another reason, however, was that she insisted, both within the Gray Panthers and in public, on centering elder activism around a broader social vision, not just the issue of the moment.

Kuhn lived in an intergenerational household in Philadelphia that served as a prefiguration of the kind of community she wanted the Panthers to help build. At a time when it was still considered unseemly, she insisted on talking about sex as an important part of life for the elderly, including her longtime relationship with a married man and later her involvement with a 21-year-old male Black Panther. Breaking taboos was her way of broadening the discussion of what life could be for the elderly and keeping the movement focused on possibility rather than on the next strategic compromise.

Elderly people were one of the last and, superficially, the least likely identity group to come to consciousness in the 1960s. But they had every reason. At the time, a far higher percentage of older Americans lived in poverty than the general population. Social Security was not yet fully indexed to inflation and Medicare was just getting started. Many of the elderly were warehoused in nursing homes, often in deplorable conditions. If they wanted to keep leading active lives, the cards were stacked against them. Big employers generally enforced mandatory retirement rules and nowhere were workplaces or public facilities required to accommodate their special needs.

The term "ageism" was coined in 1968, the year of uprisings, by gerontologist Robert Butler as a catch-all for the host of demeaning prejudices heaped on the old, ranging from the nasty (doddering, "senile," crotchety) to the patronizing (passive, old-fashioned, cute). Older people were starting to complain, get active, and form groups to fight for their rights. The American Association of Retired People (AARP) was launched in the late 1950s. The following decade other large advocacy organizations appeared, including the labor-backed National Council of Senior Citizens and the National Caucus on the Black Aged.

They quickly began to make progress. In 1965, Congress passed Medicare as well as the Older Americans Act, which funded a collection of new service and employment programs for the elderly. A year later came the first iteration of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which started the move to abolish compulsory retirement.

The Gray Panthers, who coalesced in 1972, were different, however. They didn't aim to be a mass organization directed by a Washington staff that mobilized its members from the top down. Instead, they organized through locals or "networks" loosely joined to a national office. At their peak in the early 1980s, the Panthers had only 5,000 to 6,000 members and 122 networks, whereas AARP's rolls topped 30 million. But the Panthers were hard-core, committed activists, many of them veterans of the old left and the radical wing of the labor movement, who joined because they wanted to give significant time and creativity to the cause.

As such, they helped push other elder activists in a more aggressive direction. Kuhn described the Gray Panthers as "gadflies to keep older, more established...organizations moving toward ever more radical goals." In this they weren't always successful. To give one instance, they fought against, but failed to prevent, a restructuring of Social Security in 1983 that raised payroll taxes, cut benefits, and boosted the retirement age.

Attempting to testify before the Greenspan commission, which set out the main elements of the restructuring, Kuhn was hauled away and arrested, making headlines. Other advocacy groups for the aged went along, however, because they felt it was the best deal they could get. Their willingness to compromise marked the end of more than 40 years of expansion and improvement for America's support system for the aged. Soon after, the movement against Social Security would start to spread its caricature of the elderly as "greedy geezers" devouring the resources of the young.

But the Gray Panthers were influential beyond their numbers in pushing for nursing home reform, an end to age discrimination in hiring, long-term care insurance, and better services that would help the elderly to lead more independent lives. They fought hard for a national health care system and forged strong alliances with influential figures such as Representatives Ron Dellums and Claude Pepper, Senator Paul Wellstone, and Ralph Nader. They participated just as actively in the campaigns for a nuclear freeze and an end to U.S. intervention in Central America and its support for apartheid South Africa.

From the beginning, the Gray Panthers regarded these other causes as integral to their mission. This had fundamentally radical implications, tying the Panthers philosophically to other groups that understood the need to establish a degree of autonomy and control of their environment if they wanted to improve and achieve respect for their lives. For instance, the innovative Over 60 Health Center, which the Gray Panthers opened in Berkeley in 1977, was the product of their desire not just for a clinic that specialized in their needs, but one that emphasized preventive care and was run by the community of users, not just professionals who provided the service.

Shared housing—"congregate living arrangements" in which people from a span of generations came together to form a household or family of choice—was one of the Gray Panthers' most ambitious concepts. Networks in Berkeley, Brooklyn, Denver, and Boston explored the idea. A group of Gray Panthers in Boston actually secured a grant to open a Shared Living Project residence, and the practice continues to spread modestly in some neighborhoods.

What the Over 60 Clinic, shared housing, and some other Panther projects had in common was an underlying, if not always conscious, critique of the New Deal-Great Society model for social progress. That model put the definition and fulfillment of social needs into the hands of technocrats: those schooled, trained, and indoctrinated to provide a professional "service." While it accomplished quite a bit in the decades before Reagan and the "Great Reversal," it provided very little voice for the people who participated in government social programs and received government assistance. Besides a name, one of the things the Gray Panthers shared with the Black Panther Party was a desire to bring social assets back under community control.

"Planning in an economic democracy must be under the control of elected representatives of the people while utilizing the expertise of scientists, technicians, economists, workers, [and] consumers," a Gray Panther manifesto from 1977 said. "Some planning [should be done] on the federal level, but much can be by regional and community bodies [with] as much local control as possible."

The Gray Panthers, like most social democratic-leaning movements in the 1970s, advocated a kind of decentralized mixed economy that firmly subordinated private enterprise to public need. But that kind of synthesis became less tenable after Reagan, when the continuing conservative dominance in Washington persuaded many grassroots progressive groups that they had to move to a more top-down model to defend their gains and survive.

The Gray Panthers experimented with such a structure, which meant investing more control in a Washington office that would mobilize the local networks when an issue or a bill came up that required "turnout" or contact with an elected official. They were also trying to cope with a decline in the movement itself. Panther membership fell in the 1980s, with the passing of some activists and, more importantly, the failure of many younger members to stick with the group, undermining the lifecycle model Kuhn and other early organizers had hoped would sustain it. However, the movement survived and in recent years has attempted to move back to the original network model.

But why the decline? The Gray Panthers were in part victims of their own success. Many of the large and small initiatives they pursued in the early decades—annual indexation of Social Security benefits, an end to mandatory unemployment, kneeling buses—became reality. Others, such as nursing home reform, national health care, and the mainstreaming of the disabled have been tougher slogs, but now claim much broader support. Meanwhile, the Gray Panther model of activism has been diffused: in the U.S. with groups like Grandmothers Against the War and in other countries through organizations that directly copied it (Graue Panther in Germany, Les Panthères Grises in France, and more).

All of which points to the effectiveness of the simple but shrewd frame the Gray Panthers presented: a group of elderly women and men adopting a militant style of organizing that people had previously assumed was reserved for the young. But the movement's survival also suggests that they have benefited—may, ultimately, depend on—Kuhn's insistent focus on a radical vision: in housing, health care provision, sexual relationships. This aspect of the movement is where, if the Gray Panthers persist, they could play an important role, not only in pushing against social and economic barriers, but in creating new ways to live beyond them.

"Until rigor mortis sets in," Kuhn said, "do one outrageous thing every week," and she meant it.

Source: http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/2009/panthers.htm

The End of Aging?

Inside the New Hunt for a Cure to Growing Old

Old age has always been like the weather: Everybody talks about aging, but nobody does anything about it. Oh, they’ve tried. For millennia, charlatans have been offering remedies for aging that didn’t work any better than baldness cures and virility restorers.

Now, however, with baldness cures and virility restorers that do work found as close as the nearest drugstore, researchers have started looking into ways to slow, stop or perhaps even reverse the changes that accompany aging. If these scientists succeed, their breakthroughs may lead to major changes in human society.

We’ve long regarded aging as something almost mystical or supernatural, and it’s easy to see why. Unlike, say, smallpox, aging doesn’t come on suddenly or spread from person to person. You also don’t recover from it, as you do from most infectious diseases. It happens gradually, and it’s pretty much unrelenting. Eyesight dims, joints get stiff and achy, teeth go bad and, in general, things just keep getting worse until death arrives.

But research demonstrates that aging isn’t a supernatural proc¬ess; it’s a physical one that gradually occurs as systems wear out beyond the body’s ability to repair them. Cells fill up with metabolic debris called lipofuscin that they can’t digest, accompanied by decreasing functionality. They also undergo glycation, gumming up and caramelizing with sugars that have bonded to proteins. Mitochondrial DNA can suffer mutations, and the body slowly loses stem cells, which weakens healing and repair.

Aging is breakdown, but broken things can be fixed. After all, cars and airplanes tend to wear out as they get older, but with sufficient maintenance they can last far beyond their design life.

Biogerontologists like Aubrey de Grey, author of Ending Aging, believe that living longer is a fairly straightforward engineering problem:
Find out what breaks and fix it. De Grey promotes an approach he calls Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, or SENS. It identifies seven specific breakdowns and attempts to attack each of them in turn. He and others are researching longevity with support from nonprofits and an X Prize approach aimed at extending the life span of mice. (Researchers call it the Mprize, a reference to their quest to engineer the “Methuselah mouse.”) I certainly wish them well — after all, I’m not getting any younger — but de Grey says that it will probably be 20 or 30 years before we see effective antiaging drugs on the market.

Scientists have already identified more modest life extenders. It’s pretty thoroughly established that red wine’s resveratrol activates the SIRT-1 gene, which seems to clean out intracellular gunk. (The gene is also triggered by calorie restriction.) Studies show that rats dosed with resveratrol — or given low-calorie diets — seem to live longer and remain far more vital than ordinary rats. Sirtris Pharmaceuticals is currently conducting human testing of a drug called SRT501 as a treatment for diabetes, but it may also hold promise for retarding the aging process and alleviating a number of inflammatory diseases that go with getting older.

At Stanford, researchers have reversed the aging of skin in mice, making it look and act like young skin, which contains cells that reproduce rapidly.
This treatment isn’t ready for humans, but it suggests an approach. And given the popularity of cosmetics that merely address the appearance of aging, it seems likely a product that actually produces new skin would sell like hotcakes.
Meanwhile, commercial res¬veratrol supplements are available, and people are taking them, including some scientists in the field. As part of the research for this column, I started taking one.

On the flip side, people often see extended longevity as dubious, envisioning extra years in the nursing home. As Jay Leno says, “People tell you to eat right and exercise, but that only gives you more years in your 80s. Who needs that? What I really want are more years in my 20s.” New treatments for aging would give us just that — or at least healthier years in our 60s and 70s. The goal isn’t just more years in your life, but more life in your years.

If antiaging drugs eventually work, who could be against them? Well, Dr. Leon Kass, for one. Kass, former chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, writes: “Is it really true that longer life for individuals is an unqualified good? If the human life span were increased even by only 20 years, would the pleasures of life increase proportionately?”

The obvious answer: It depends on the individual. But on a societal level, the extension of people's productive working lives could pay huge dividends. If people stay youthful longer, we’ll see less pressure on the stressed-out social security systems of most industrialized countries. If 65-year-olds were as vigorous as 35-year-olds, or even 45-year-olds, there would be no reason to fund their retirement. Pushing the retirement age back a decade or two could save trillions. And, of course, if you can actually reverse aging, the whole notion of retirement becomes obsolete.

The reality is that Americans now live longer, healthier lives by several decades than the majority did a century ago. Most of us think it’s a good thing. Would extending this phenomenon by several more decades be good, too? Seems like it to me.

Source: http://www.globalaging.org/elderrights/us/2009/end.htm

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nomination Invited for The Golden Award for individual above 80 years of age

The Golden Award was conceived by HelpAge India with the view to honour an individual above 80 years of age who shows exemplary courage in fighting the challenges that ageing present to her/him to serve the humanity. This is not only an acknowledgement of their personal achievement but also our way of gently reminding the society what older persons are capable of!

About Golden Award
The Golden Award was instituted by HelpAge India in the year 1993 to honour exceptional individuals who have contributed consistently for the welfare of the society and more so in their advancing years.

The award constitutes a Citation, a Special Memento and a Cheque for Rs. 10,000/-.

The recipients include luminaries like Shri H.D. Shourie (Director Common Cause), Justice B.P. Berry (Retired Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court and Vice Chairman Red Cross), Dr. C. Gopalan (President, Nutrition Foundation of India), Shri P.L. Tandon (Ex. Chairman Levers, STC Punjab National Bank & NCAER), Mr. Inder Prakash Anand (Retired Executive Director of Thapar Group, on the Board of Governors of IIT, Kanpur and various Regional Engineering Colleges, currently on the Management Board of ILO, Institute of Labour Studies and ILO’s International Training Centre)

Selection Criterion

 Person to be citizen of India
 No bar on caste or religion
 Age above 80 years (The oldest old will be given preference)
 A successful career during pre-retirement period
 In the advancing years, a notable contribution to the welfare of society and thereby achieving eminence
 Should be an example for other senior citizens to emulate

Selection Process

 Call for nominations. The Advisory Committee reserves the right to include name of any candidate nominated in the previous years.

 Scrutiny of the names and short listing by the Advisory Committee

 Final short listed names along with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee to be viewed by the Jury

 Final decision of the Jury

 Presentation of the Award

Last Date of Nomination is Monday, 24th August 2008.

Ask for Nomination form here: sailesh2000@gmail.com

What are the public health implications of global ageing?

Q: What are the public health implications of global ageing?

A: From 2000 until 2050, the world's population aged 60 and over will more than triple from 600 million to 2 billion. Most of this increase is occurring in developing countries - where the number of older people will rise from 400 million in 2000 to 1.7 billion by 2050.

This demographic change has several implications for public health. Good health is essential for older people to remain independent and to play a part in family and community life. Life-long health promotion and disease prevention activities can prevent or delay the onset of non-communicable and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.

When these conditions do occur in older people, primary health services must provide accessible, integrated and regular care. Chronic diseases require monitoring in order to minimize the development of associated disabilities and negative effects on the quality of life. The ongoing nature of the care means it is more effectively provided in community-based settings, such as primary health care centres.

Public health action can draw on the capacities of older people. For example, the world's growing population of older people plays a critical role through volunteering, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and increasing their participation in the paid labour force.


Elder Boom Will Be Felt Worldwide

The proportion of people who are age 65 and older will double from 7 to 14 percent of the world's total population by 2040, says a new U.S. Census Bureau study.

The over-65 population worldwide will grow from 506 million as of last year to 1.3 billion in 30 years. The unprecedented rate of increase will present challenges and opportunities, according to the report, commissioned by the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

And the number of people 100 and older -- centenarians -- has risen dramatically, from an estimated few thousand in 1950 to more than 340,000 worldwide today; the greatest numbers of centenarians are found in the United States and Japan, according to the latest Census Bureau figures.

"Aging is affecting every country in every part of the world,"
Richard Suzman, director of the behavioral and social research at the institute, said in an agency news release. "While there are important differences between developed and developing countries, global aging is changing the social and economic nature of the planet and presenting difficult challenges. The fact that, within 10 years, for the first time in human history there will be more people aged 65 and older than children under 5 in the world underlines the extent of this change."

The report, "An Aging World: 2008," found that:

* The current growth rate of the older population in developing countries is more than double that in developed countries and double that of the total world population.

* Currently, 313 million (62 percent) of the world's people age 65 and older live in developing countries. By 2040, that will increase to more than 1 billion people, or 76 percent of the projected world population.

* In many countries, people 80 and older are the fastest growing portion of the population. Between 2008 and 2040, that segment of the population is projected to increase 233 percent, compared with 160 percent for those age 65 and older, and 33 percent for the total world population.

* In China and India, there are 166 million people age 65 and older, nearly a third of the world's total. That number will increase to 551 million by 2040 -- 329 million in China and 222 million in India.

* In 2005, childlessness among American and European women age 65 ranged from less than eight percent in the Czech Republic to 15 percent in Austria and Italy. In the United States in 2006, 20 percent of women ages 40 to 44 had no biological children.

The researchers said the data raises questions about who will care for these people when they're elderly.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

World Ageing & Generations Congress 2009

The 5th World Ageing & Generations Congress will take place from the 3rd to 5th of September 2009 at the Executive Campus HSG of the University of St. Gallen.

The aim of the World Ageing & Generations Congress is to address important topics related to demographic change and its effect on the labour market and social security, on health issues, on the development of new products and markets and on changing lifestyles in society.

However, the congress will do more than simply address such topics. Rather, by establishing a wide platform for a broad audience and bringing together over 100 specialists from different spheres of society and numerous academic disciplines, the World Demographic & Ageing Forum will provide the framework for the development of innovative solutions in the realms of public policy, business, health and academia.

The topics of the World Ageing & Generations Congress are organised around five core topics:

* Work & Welfare

* Health

* Innovation & Markets

* Lifestyle & Society

* Ageing & Development

Know more here: http://www.wdassociation.org/dcpage.aspx?fid=8

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making Home a Safer Place, Affordably

That’s the question many older people ponder as they move into their 70s and beyond.

Most older people settle on staying put, according to a recent survey by the Home Safety Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing home-related injuries. (From the source of the survey, you can see where this column is heading, right?)

Staying put makes economic sense. It is not only more comfortable to live out your life in your own home, it’s much more affordable.

The average annual fee at an assisted-living facility — a place where older people live independently but also receive a host of services like medication monitoring and meals — is $34,000. And in the nation’s most expensive metropolitan areas, including New York, the costs may be closer to $70,000.

But while home might be cozier and cheaper than a residential center, it’s not always safer. Every year in this country about 7,000 elderly people die in home-related accidents, and millions are seriously injured. Falls are the leading cause of injuries, but the elderly are also at risk for being burned by the stove, scalded by hot water or drowning in the tub.

The home “environment can be a great support to independent living,” says Jon Pynoos, professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California. “Or it can be a health care hazard.”

After Maryann Connelly’s mother fell and hurt herself two years ago, Ms. Connelly considered moving her to an assisted-living facility.

But the mother, Catherine Fisher, who is in her 80s and has lived on her own for 18 years, had a two-word response — “No way!” — even though her rheumatoid arthritis made it difficult to walk up and down stairs and get in and out of chairs.

So Ms. Connelly and her siblings hired an occupational therapist to modify Ms. Fisher’s two-story townhouse in Newton, N.J., to make it safer and easier for her to navigate. The therapist added, among other things, an electric stair lift and grab bars throughout the house. The total cost, for the therapist’s fee, equipment and installation, was $4,500.

As Ms. Connelly learned, an entire service industry is slowly taking shape around the goal of letting people age in place. If you want to make your own home or an older relative or friend’s home a safer, more supportive place to live, here are basic guidelines to the most efficient and cost-effective approaches.

TAKING STOCK Learn where the potential hazards lie and how you can reduce them. For starters, go to the Home Safety Council’s site, MySafeHome.net, and take the house tour, which points out possible dangers room by room. Many of the changes the site suggests are simple and inexpensive, like removing area rugs and installing brighter bulbs in hallways.

AARP also has an interactive home safety checklist created with the National Association of Homebuilders.

A PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENT If you have multiple medical issues, say arthritis and poor vision, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist — an O.T., as they’re known — who specializes in home modifications. The O.T. can analyze your potential challenges and your home’s shortcomings to come up with a plan that a contractor or handyman can easily follow.

“An O.T. is your best source for doing the right thing,” said Professor Pynoos, who is also the co-director of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence, a state-supported organization in California. Gregg Frank, the O.T. who helped Ms. Connelly’s mother, “was able to analyze my mother’s needs in a way we never would have been able to,” Ms. Connelly said.

Mr. Frank raised the height of Ms. Fisher’s chairs to make getting in and out them easier, for example, and installed threshold ramps and railings at the front door to make it safer for her to leave and enter the house on her own.

An O.T. can also supply you with an invoice that lists the medical necessity of each improvement — a document that you might need to get reimbursed, say, from a long-term care insurer.

LONG-TERM CARE COVERAGE If you were far-sighted enough to have such a policy, call your insurance agent and ask whether home modifications are covered under your plan and what documentation you need to be reimbursed. A policy will not pay for upgrades if you are still healthy.

In general, regular health insurance does not cover physical upgrades to the home, though it often will pay for an occupational therapist to come in and do an assessment

TAPPING HOME EQUITY If you want to make substantial changes to your home, but don’t have the cash to pay for them, consider taking out a home equity loan. For information on ways you can tap into your home equity, go to LongTermCare.gov, a site run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

While a home equity loan is your best option, if a bank won’t give you such a loan, another possibility is a reverse mortgage. Available to people over 62, a reverse mortgage lets you convert the equity in your home into cash. But the fees can be substantial, so be sure to speak with a financial planner before taking out this type of mortgage.

WHEN MONEY IS SCARCE Contact your local department of aging and inquire about home modification loans and services available to seniors. Use the federal government’s elder care locator — www.eldercare.gov — to find your local office, or call 800-677-1116.

Some government agencies make low-interest loans to those with low or moderate incomes. In addition, get in touch with Rebuilding Together (www.rebuildingtogether.org, or 1-800-473-4229), a national nonprofit organization that helps people with low incomes improve their homes. The organization’s Safe at Home program was created specifically to help older people do just that: stay safe at home.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/health/18patient.html?_r=2&ref=health

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dear Mother I miss you most...

This is touching letter one of my good friend has written about her mother from UK where she is put up for last one year for professional course:

Lately I have been missing home a lot. Especially my mother and her food. I've also been missing her when I get stuck at writing and when the reading makes no sense. I have felt a deep sense of longing for her when things don't go my way, especially when I am down and feel like crying, I long for her protective embrace.

At 35, I thought I was adept to handle my emotions and my life. I thought I had wisened enough to run and control my life - on my terms. My independent streak propelled me to greater heights, to newer exciting experiences. However, the dizzying experiences have made me miss my loved ones more than ever. Every beautiful place I have been, the mountains I've climbed, the time I have spent in gardens in the company of colourful flowers, the fields filled with dandelions in the countryside, the daises and bluebells, buttercups too, growing profusely over any greenpatches they could find.... all this nature around me...I've spent time 'alone' with it, I was joyous, but I wanted my loved ones to experience the happiness too.

When I think about it...at the end of the day, all I wanted was to spend time with my loved ones, my family, nothing else really mattered. Moments become special when they are shared.

I have developed a huge respect and a sense of awe towards my parents. They have always been the superheroes, protecting their children from pain or any ill, serving them in illness and bringing them up in good health. I have selfishly eaten the last piece of delicacy, sweet or a luscious fruit in the house knowing little that it was my mum's share. I've never really heard her complaint. The complainee has always been me...

It has always been easy for me to vent the frustrations of the world towards her, and be the one that knows more, with logic and understanding. I never realised my mum could be vulnerable too, insecure in her ways. I always thought if she can run a home and a family she is smart enough to live through anything. If at 35 I can still feel child like and would want to crawl under her quilt while she sleeps.....long for her strength and the warmth she so protectively passes over me when I need it the most... I wonder then....would it be the same for her...to long for strength from her long dead parents...and then maybe turn to her children for the same warmth she so unconditionally gave us.

I have seen her shifting from independence to dependence now. I probably understand her better, her struggles, her vulnerability to the obstacles in life and the sheer strength to act as if all has been taken care of.

I feel a deep sense of respect and gratitude for her...I may never be fully able to match her unconditional love....but I've understood her struggles from my own struggles...and I long to be with her again...in her protective embrace....

Love you mummy and miss you most...

:) Shirin

Your mother is lucky to have a daughter like you,God bless you both....Sailesh

Senior citizens get 30 health cover products

Senior citizens now have a reason to smile. Close on the heels of the Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority (IRDA) asking insurance companies to relax the entry age for senior citizens up to 65 years, 30 products have been launched by insurance companies in the last few months, informed J Hari Narayan, chairman, IRDA at the FICCI Health Insurance Conference.

“We now have 6 specific products for senior citizens. After the IRDA issued the circular, 30 recent health insurance products have been launched (in the last few months), which allow a higher entry age for senior citizens at 65 years,” he said.

“Overall 3.5 per cent of the total health insurance policies are from senior citizens that is the age group between 60 and 70 years, while their share in total claims is 10 per cent. On the other hand, 30 per cent of the policies are between the age group of 26 and 48 years while the claims are low.”

“Today, 30 per cent of the claims are rejected for simple reasons. Of this, 90 per cent of the claims are rejected on grounds that the diseases are pre-existing diseases. Somehow, the communication between the agent and the policyholder must improve. Buyers of health insurance should disclose their pre-existing diseases so that the premium is adjusted accordingly and there is no issue when a claim arises,” added the IRDA Chairman.


Silver Innings an organisation for Elderly

We at Silver Innings are committed to ensure that ageing becomes a positive, rewarding experience for all. Ageing gracefully is the way of life we promote.We wish to help elders and their family members to overcome the challenges of ageing and show them the way to live with dignity in their sliver years.

Visit us www.silverinnings.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Brain Health Lifestyle

Brain Health

The single greatest system ever designed in the history of the universe is your brain. Your brain is responsible for your every thought, emotion and behavior. Unfortunately we humans do not know much about our brains, and it is time to change that.

Five Domains of the ‘Brain Health Lifestyle’


* Do not isolate or segregate as you get older.
* Join groups and social organizations in your community.
* Maintain and build your friendship and family network.
* Be forgiving.
* Develop hobbies.
* Do not retire.

Physical Activity

* Walk between 7,000 and 12,000 steps daily. Walk several times a week. Buy yourself a pedometer to remind yourself to walk and to keep track of your daily steps.
* Dance.
* Do gardening.
* Knit.
* Do aerobic exercise.
* Use both sides of your body more often: become ambidextrous.

Mental Stimulation

* Learn a second language.
* Read and write (use your nondominant hand) on a daily basis; the more complex, the better.
* Learn sign language.
* Play board games.
* Travel.
* Play a musical instrument.
* Listen to classical music.
* Problem solve.


* Pray on a daily basis.
* Regularly attend a formal place of worship.
* Learn to meditate.
* Learn relaxation procedures with deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
* Slow down.
* Do not be afraid to say no.


* Eat 80 percent of what you intend to eat at each meal.
* Eat with utensils so you eat less.
* Eat healthier foods.
* Increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, walnuts and unsalted nuts.
* Increase your intake of antioxidants.
* Eat colored fruits (grapes, apples, cantaloupe and berries) and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
* Decrease your intake of processed foods and red meats.
* Eat one sit down meal a day with others.

Source: http://alzprevention.org/prevention-and-dementia.php

Friday, July 17, 2009

Healing Touch Essential Component of Eldercare

Touch is a vital part of my life, and I believe it is a vital component of eldercare. I began studying the effects of touch before the birth of my first child, discovering that infants will fail to thrive, even when all other needs are met, unless they are regularly held. I believe this same principle applies to people of all ages. Although it is possible to live with little physical contact, we cannot thrive without it.

A favorite hospice patient of mine lamented the lack of touch in his elder years.I realized that one of the first things the elderly lose is consistent human touch. Isolation, decreased mobility and the loss of cherished friends and family members can make prolonged skin to skin contact a rare event. Certain illnesses, like dementia, dramatically decrease the ability to spontaneously reach out and connect with other people. This is tragic, as research proves that physical touch has a dramatic effect on both our psychological and physical well-being.

I believe there is great cause for hope. As caregivers, we have a marvelous capacity to share the warmth of our hands and touch of our skin while providing eldercare. Did you know the magic of our touch can do all this?

* Decrease anxiety
* Improve immune system functioning
* Increase relaxation
* Relieve pain
* Reduce behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

And it’s so easy to do. I don’t have time to give lengthy massages, and I doubt other caregivers do, either. However, just five minutes, twice a day, of regular skin contact can make a world of difference in your loved one’s life.

Some studies have shown that incorporating consistent, “legitimate” touch into care programs for Alzheimer’s patients can decrease the need for sexual activity.

I use these simple techniques to increase physical contact

* Gentle Massage - focus on hands, feet, back and head
* Hugs - quick ones are good. Lingering ones are better.
* Hair Brushing ­- gently, with a soft brush

Rather than rushing through my tasks with a minimum of touch, I remind myself to slow down and be physically present with the people I care for. After all, the simple act of sitting next to someone I’m caring for and holding their hand for a few minutes is good for both of us.

Source: http://eldercareabcblog.com/healing-touch-essential-component-of-eldercare/

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Caregiver’s Nightmare: Delirium After Surgery

As a friend and not a caregiver to my 80 year old friend Mary, I was confident her surgery would go well. A week before her surgery, Mary followed her normal schedule of bridge games and working in the garden.

A week after surgery, Mary didn’t know what hospital she was in. She told visitors that she had had a heart attack, a heart transplant and three surgeries. None of it was true. I was worried that my friend would never return to her old self. Four weeks after surgery, Mary came out of her delirium and my caregiving responsibilities lessened.

Whether your parent seems sturdy or fragile, it takes surprisingly little to throw their mental abilities into a tail spin after surgery. Thirty to forty percent of seniors experience delirium at least once during a hospital stay.

What is delirium?

Delirium is short term, sudden onset of mental confusion. It can show up as agitation, hallucinations and delusions. Your parent may have trouble remembering and difficulty paying attention. She may alternate between being alert and not knowing where she is or what has happened.

We all fear our parent “losing it”. Seeing it happen is really frightening. In most cases, delirium is temporary. In some individuals, the stress of surgery uncovers an undetected decline in mental function. Having delirium puts your parent at risk for complications such as pressure sores and falls.

Caregiving Strategies to Cope with Delirium

* Even though you may be quite upset, maintain a calm and soothing manner when visiting.
* Gently reorient your parent to their current circumstances but don’t argue or insist if they become agitated.
* Consider hiring a caregiver or having a family member stay with your parent in the hospital as a calming influence.
* Make sure your parent has a clock, a calendar, a notepad and pen as tools to stay on track.
* Make sure they have their glasses and hearing aid(s) to prevent confusion based on not seeing or hearing clearly.
* Meet with your parent’s doctor to understand what is being done to help your parent recover.
* Advise the doctor if you suspect that your parent is drug or alcohol dependent. Withdrawal can cause delirium.
* If at all possible they should not be physically restrained.
* Be cautious about the use of antipsychotic drugs and ask that your parent to be a given the lowest effective dose if prescribed.
* If your parent’s delirium lasts for more than a few days, request an evaluation from a delirium specialist.

Time and healing will likely restore your parent to her normal abilities and reduce your caregiving role. Has your parent experienced delirium? How did your family cope?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New contact details of Silver Inning Foundation

Dear Friends,
Please note new contact details of Silver Inning Foundation ,NGO for Senior Citizens.

Silver Inning Foundation
4th Floor, Candelar Building,
26 St. John Baptist Road,
Above Dilshad Salon,
Near Mount Mary Steps,
Bandra (W),
Mumbai 400 050,

Telephone: 09987104233 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm).

silverinnings@gmail.com ; info@silverinnings.com
Website: www.silverinnings.com

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why We Age - - Theories and Effects of Aging


The study of aging - gerontology - is a relatively new science that has made incredible progress over the last 30 years. In the past, scientists looked for a single theory that explained aging. There are two main groups of aging theories. The first group states that aging is natural and programmed into the body, while the second group of aging theories say that aging is a result of damage which is accumulated over time. In the end, aging is a complex interaction of genetics, chemistry, physiology and behavior.

Theories of Aging

By understanding and describing how we age, researchers have developed several different theories of aging. The two categories are: programmed theories and error theories.

  • Programmed Theories assert that the human body is designed to age and there is a certain biological timeline that our bodies follow.
    • Programmed Longevity: Aging is caused by certain genes switching on and off over time.
    • Endocrine Theory: Changes in hormones control aging.
    • Immunological Theory: The immune system is programmed to decline over time, leaving people more susceptible to diseases.
  • Error Theories assert that aging is caused by environmental damage to our body's systems, which accumulates over time.

Genetics and Aging

Studies have demonstrated that genetics can play a major role in aging. When researchers adjust the genes in certain mice, yeast cells and other organisms, they can almost double the lifespan of these creatures. The meaning of these experiments for people is not known, but researchers think that genetics account for up to 35 percent of the variation in aging among people. Some key concepts in genetics and aging include:

  • Longevity Genes: There are specific genes which help a person live longer.
  • Cell Senescence: The process by which cells deteriorate over time.
  • Telomeres: Structures on the end of DNA that eventually are depleted, resulting in cells ceasing to replicate.
  • Stem Cells: These cells can become any type of cell in the body and hold promise to repair damage caused by aging.


No matter what genes you have inherited, your body is continually undergoing complex biochemical reactions. Some of these reactions cause damage and, ultimately, aging in the body. Studying these complex reactions is helping researchers understand how the body changes as it ages. Important concepts in the biochemistry of aging include:

  • Free Radicals: Unstable oxygen molecules which can damage cells.
  • Protein Cross-Linking: Excess sugars in the blood stream can cause protein molecules to literally stick together.
  • DNA Repair: For an unknown reasons, the systems in the body to repair DNA seem to become less effective in older people.
  • Heat Shock Proteins: These proteins help cells survive stress and are present in fewer numbers in older people.
  • Hormones: The body's hormones change as we age, causing many shifts in organ systems and other functions.

Body Systems

As we age, our body's organs and other systems make changes. These changes alter our susceptibility to various diseases. Researchers are just beginning to understand the processes that cause changes over time in our body systems. Understanding these processes is important because many of the effects of aging are first noticed in our body systems. Here is a brief overview of how some body systems age:

  • Heart Aging: The heart muscle thickens with age as a response to the thickening of the arteries. This thicker heart has a lower maximum pumping rate.
  • Immune System Aging: T cells take longer to replenish in older people and their ability to function declines.
  • Arteries and Aging: Arteries usually to stiffen with age, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood through them.
  • Lung Aging: The maximum capacity of the lungs may decrease as much as 40 percent between ages 20 and 70.
  • Brain Aging: As the brain ages, some of the connections between neurons seem to be reduced or less efficient. This is not yet well understood.
  • Kidney Aging: The kidneys become less efficient at cleaning waste from the body.
  • Bladder Aging: The total capacity of the bladder declines and tissues may atrophy, causing incontinence.
  • Body Fat and Aging: Body fat increases until middle age and then weight typically begins to decrease. The body fat also moves deeper in the body as we age.
  • Muscle Aging: Muscle tone declines about 22 percent by age 70, though exercise can slow this decline.
  • Bone Aging: Starting at age 35, our bones begin to lose density. Walking, running and resistance training can slow this process.
  • Sight and Aging: Starting in the 40s, difficulty seeing close detail may begin.
  • Hearing and Aging: As people age, the ability to hear high frequencies declines.

Behavioral Factors

The good news is that many of these causes of aging can be modified through your behaviors:

  • By eating foods loaded with antioxidants, you can minimize damage caused by free radicals.
  • By exercising, you can limit bone and muscle loss.
  • By keeping your cholesterol low, you can slow the hardening of your arteries and protect your heart.
  • By practicing mental fitness, you can keep your brain sharp.

Lifestyle factors have also been shown to extend life. Rats and mice on a calorie restricted diet (30 percent fewer daily calories) live up to 40 percent longer. Positive thinking has also been shown to extend life in people by up to 7.5 years.

By Mark Stibich, Ph.D., About.com


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