Aging

Patients with Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome age eight to 10 times faster than the rest of us and rarely live beyond 13 years. Almost all of the patients die from complications of arteriosclerosis, the clogging or hardening of arteries or blood vessels caused by plaques, which leads to heart attack and stroke.

Research on Progeria is difficult because the disease is exceedingly rare and only 64 children living with progeria are known, making access to patients very difficult.
When you were young you may have heard something about a dog like, "Fido is 10 years old, that is 70 in people years" and wondered what that meant.

It's a rule of thumb but there is a science basis to it, yet current methods of comparing patterns of aging are limited because they confound two different elements of aging – pace and shape.   And it can be confusing for non-biologists.
While the average lifespan of those who reach adulthood has continued to rise those years spent living without health issues have not kept pace.

From 1970 to 2005, the probability of a 65-year-old surviving to age 85 doubled, from about a 20 percent chance to a 40 percent chance and the presumption was that the same changes allowing people to live longer, including medical advances, would delay the onset of disease and allow people to spend fewer years of their lives with debilitating illness.

Instead, a 20-year-old today can expect to live one less healthy year over his or her life span than a 20-year-old a decade ago.

What gives?
As life expectancies increase, so does the number of elderly people undergoing surgical procedures.    Recently, there has been growing about potential neurotoxicity of anesthetics and their role in post-operative cognitive decline.

Alzheimer's Disease(AD) is a devastating disease most commonly found in elderly people. It is manifested by severe memory loss, language problems, impaired decision making and affected activities of daily living.
There are three key factors associated with what gerontologists call "successful aging" - avoiding disease, maintaining physical and cognitive function, and continuing social engagement in late life.  But why do some groups clearly have those factors more than others?

One of the most recognized markers of cellular aging is the progressive accumulation of damage in the DNA, a molecule that cannot tolerate the alteration of the genetic information coded in its bases.

New research suggests that walking at least six miles per week may protect brain size and in turn, preserve memory in old age. 

For the study, 299 dementia-free people recorded the number of blocks they walked in one week. Then nine years later, scientists took brain scans of the participants to measure their brain size. After four more years, the participants were tested to see if they had developed cognitive impairment or dementia.
A new study published in Cell Metabolism says it has increased the lifespan of middle-aged mice by 12% using a combination of three amino acids as supplements.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have extended life span in yeast but this is the first time these amino acids have been shown to work in mammals, the researchers say. 
A major blow to the free radical theory of aging, which has lead the research in aging for more than 50 years and fuels a multimillionaire anti-aging industry has just been published by Portuguese scientists from the University of Minho.

According to the theory, free radicals provoke oxidative damage and this is the cause of aging. The new work, however, shows that not only is possible to slow down aging in cells with high levels of oxidation but more, that a free radical (H2O2) is behind the high longevity seen with low caloric diets (a well known method to increase lifespan) turning upside down the way we see anti-aging therapy and research with major implications for the field.

There are some Happy Coffins from Singapore challenging death's taboos. Today, designer coffins deck a nursing home where three residents fulfill their pre-departure wishes about how their final resting places should look. 


"Without any fear," Elsie Chua said, "I am not afraid to talk about my eventual departure. It is very meaningful to be able to shape the design of my coffin and see it before I die.   I want to have a matching kebaya to go along."


 A kebaya is a traditional Straits Chinese garment for women. 


The art of dying


Elsie's wish was granted through an initiative between the Lien Foundation, a Singapore philanthropic house and St Joseph's Home and Hospice.