RECENT INNOVATIONS IN HEALTHY AGEING
MAY 16, 2019 @ 7.13 PM
As the ageing population all over the world increases, it is imperative that we find ways to make sure that they age well with little disability and disease. Is this possible? Yes, according to Ray Kurzweil and Dr Terry Grossman in their book ‘Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever’.
In his book, Kurzweil defines what he calls his three bridges to immortality. The “First Bridge” is the health regimen he describes with co-author Dr Terry Grossman to keep people fit enough to cross the “Second Bridge” a biotechnological revolution. Kurzweil writes that humanity is on the verge of controlling how genes express themselves and ultimately, changing the genes.
With such technology, humanity could block disease causing genes and introduce new ones that would slow or stop the ageing process. The “Third Bridge” is the nanotechnology and artificial intelligence revolution, which Kurzweil predicts will deliver the nanobots that work like repaving crews in our bloodstreams and brains.
These intelligent machines will destroy disease, rebuild organs and obliterate known limits on human intelligence, he believes in the next 20 years.
Slow ageing and disease process
If all this is going to be true, than it is even more important that we take care of our health now. The knowledge exists, if aggressively applied, for you to slow ageing and disease processes to such a degree that you can be in good health and good spirits when the more radical life-extending and life-enhancing technologies become available over the next couple of decades.
Longevity expert and gerontologist Aubrey de Grey uses the metaphor of maintaining a house to explain this key concept. How long does a house last? The answer obviously depends on how well you take care of it. If you do nothing, the roof will spring a leak before long, water and the elements will invade, and eventually the house will disintegrate. But if you proactively take care of the structure, repair all damage, confront all dangers, and rebuild or renovate parts from time to time using new materials and technologies, the life of the house can essentially be extended without limit. The same holds true for our bodies and brains.
Right now we are all crossing the first bridge. Healthy ageing is a concept where someone is proactively assessed to look at his biological age and than put on a regime to maintain his health and prevent disease. It is preventive medicine in comparison to symptom control medicine.
Health issues get our attention the moment clinical disease strikes but most people fail to focus on prevention and health enhancement in a timely manner before the onset of overt symptoms.
As Ray Kurzweil says, we have to maintain our health status and for every year we live longer the better our chances of extending our lifespan.
Whether eventually the human lifespan will be extended is left to be seen but I believe that a good healthy ageing programme will at least improve our quality of life and prevent all the degenerative diseases of ageing and disability as is often seen in the present ageing population.
I believe that with our genome already mapped and using DNA profiling and our recent knowledge of telomeres and stem cells, we are now entering the second bridge and soon nano technology will be here.
The idea is to Live Long, Live Well.
**Dato Dr Rajbans Singh is the Malaysian Wellness Society president and Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur consultant physician and geriatrician. He can be contacted at drrajbans.com
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