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New Thoughts on Longevity

Human efforts and endeavor seems not stopping until and unless it finds out the end of life..

Naval officers standing with William Morris Hughes (Photo credit: Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons)

People in the various disciplines that comprise the field of gerontology are feeling today more than ever before that they are on the cutting edge of a movement – one that will be comprised of waves of citizens as they age in the decades to follow. They would do well to remember the story former director of National Institute of Aging Robert Butler often tells of his friend Morris Rocking. When Rocklin was 101 years old, he went to see his doctor one day complaining of a pain in his left leg. ‘Morris for Pete’s sake, what do you expect at one hundred and one?’- His doctor said. ‘Look my right leg is also one hundred and one, but it doesn’t hurt a bit. Now explain that!’- Morris snapped back.

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Now we can finally see answers to Rocklin’s query starting to appear- if hazily – on the horizon. And as the experts ponder the implications of lab experiments and research studies, the rest of us are waking up to a brand new idea of what it means to get older.

‘The 45, 55, or 65 year old today is a different animal- reports Carole B. Allan a Washington based psychologist who was an adviser to the White House Conference Aging in 1981. ‘These people are much healthier than were people their age in previous generations. Not only healthier, but also fitter, more active, and perceived to be sexier. Recently a New York advertising account executive saw reason to comment on an ad placed in the ‘Fashions of the Times’ section of The New York Times. It was he said probably the first time a woman in her fifties has ever been shown in such a romantic, evocative pose.

Recently, too we have acknowledged the fact that men and women do not cease to grow and change once they reach 65, 70, or 75. at the very least, advances in medicine and gerontological research will allow countless numbers of people to have the chance to grow wiser. The gains of the mind and spirit that can occur in later life have no limit. Sometimes ‘expected’ declines don’t arrive on schedule. Already, there are hopeful signs that the quality of our later years will get better and better. And the longevity game has not even begun to hit its stride.

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