When does aging begin? There’s an interesting question. We have always assumed for this column that aging has to do with old people. Actually, in a sense aging begins immediately after birth. Every day cells in our body die. I assume they die of “old age.” They are of course replaced with new cells and the process goes on. Habits fixed at 20, can have a causative effect on health at 80. We are always changing and each change is a step towards that moment when the whole organism, that is me and you, dies. Death is the final step in aging and birth the logical first step.
I looked around for others with this viewpoint that aging is a process that begins at birth and found an interesting web site dealing with the notion of “transgenerational design.” This is the notion of designing products and services that pay simultaneous attention to the needs and desires of different age groups. It has a number of useful categories and the overview of the aging process was especially valuable and the design of a transgenerational house was quite clever (1).
Then, there are those who would define aging as a process of decay. Thus, humans would not begin to age until after they stopped growing and had reached maturity. Also, there is the viewpoint that aging, being a degenerative process, can be stopped or slowed down (2). The anti-aging movement has a very good point and there are many things we can do to improve our odds at having long, healthy and productive lives.
I think though aging as a term can be used in a number of contexts.
So as aging vs. anti-aging we have value judgments based on wellness and function. For example: good diet and exercise can maintain function and thus reduce the effects of aging.
In another sense, we have aging as a simple chronological fact. After every day we are older. Every day we age.
I’m going for something more philosophical. Let’s think of aging as the process a fine wine goes through. We get better as we age.
- Transgenerational Design Matters. http://transgenerational.org/aging
- Anti-Aging Today. http://www.anti-aging-today.org
Some Housekeeping for the Blog and Discussion
The blog will take a holiday break for the last two Fridays of December, with publication renewing on Friday, January 2, 2015. Happy New Year! Also, the discussion will go on holiday as well.
I’m thinking of moving the Weekly Discussion on Aging over to Friday at noon. The discussion is held on the UTMB Island in Second Life and attendance has been sporadic. We are going to be hosting a gathering to listen to the NPR program, Science Friday, at 1 pm (Texas time) on the SL UTMB island, so maybe the discussion would be more popular as a prelude. If the discussion moves to Fridays, then I’ll probably move the blog posting back to Wednesday.
Stay tuned for the final plan.