A reality check on“healthy aging.”  The real troubles - and opportunities - of a gero-nation go unheeded.

The numbers are increasingly disturbing: By 2050, some 88 million Americans will be over 65, with more than 20 million over 85. That such huge demographic shifts portend a challenge to the medical system goes without saying. 

The traditional American response holds that such needs will be filled by an innovative business culture responsive to market demand.
We're not joking; a sense of humor helps to keep people healthy and increases their chances of at least reaching retirement age, though after the age of 70 the health benefits of humor decrease, say researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

The study has just been published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine and was composed of an examination of records from 53,500 individuals after after seven years. The study was based on a comprehensive database from the second Nor-Trøndelag Health Study, called HUNT 2, which is comprised of health histories and blood samples collected in 1995-1997 from more than 70,000 residents of a county in mid-Norway.

A positive effect
An international research team has gathered a database of the oldest people in the world - those who lived beyond their 110th birthday, and while searching for these 'supercentenarians' and trying to find accurate documentation of their age, they also documented the personal histories and wisdom of those who long-lived folks.

The result; a book called "Supercentenarians" and  coordinated by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock/Germany.
University of Birmingham scientists have discovered that the gene DAF-16 plays an important part in determining the rate of aging and average lifespan of the laboratory worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) and its close evolutionary cousins.

DAF-16 is found in many other animals, including humans, and it is possible that this knowledge could open up new avenues for altering ageing, immunity and resistance to stresses in humans. The research was published this week in PLoS One
Eternity Soup, by Greg Critser

Harmony Books, 2010

Scientific Blogging's own Greg Critser has tackled the science and business of eternal youth in his latest book. It's an engaging and excellent read. Critser is a fine storyteller, mixing his discussion of science with the lively personalities of the people involved. The book covers the latest science behind aging, the people who have shaped their lifestyles around that science, and the businesses that are trying to capitalize prematurely on the science.
Greg Critser started blogging here within a month after we opened the doors.  How did he hear of us?   I have no idea and neither does he but shortly after we started we were referenced by lots of well-known writers like Andrew Sullivan and Greg and many others.   
Congratulations to Scientific Blogging's own Greg Critser, whose latest book, Eternity Soup is reviewed in Nature:

Critser's book is a brilliant exposé of the increasingly popular anti-ageing industry and how its practitioners have misled many people into believing that they can stop or reverse the effects of ageing. Proponents seem to argue: ageing is your fault; we have an unproven cure for sale that no one has disproved; scientists and physicians who disagree with us operate in a failed paradigm; and our patients tell us they feel better, therefore our treatments work.
People who stay mentally sharp into their 80s and beyond challenge the notion that brain changes linked to mental decline and Alzheimer's disease are a normal, inevitable part of aging, say scientists presenting at the ACS National Meeting.

The researchers say that elderly people with super-sharp memory — so-called "super-aged" individuals — somehow escaped formation of brain "tangles." The tangles consist of an abnormal form of a protein called "tau" that damages and eventually kills nerve cells. Named for their snarled, knotted appearance under a microscope, tangles increase with advancing age and peak in people with Alzheimer's disease.
People in developed nations are living as much as a decade longer than their parents did as a result of staying healthy to a more advanced age, according to a new review published in Nature.

The better health in older age stems from public health efforts to improve living conditions and prevent disease, and from improved medical interventions, said author James Vaupel, who heads Duke University's Center on the Demography of Aging.

Over the past 170 years, in the countries with the highest life expectancies, the average life span has grown at a rate of 2.5 years per decade, or about 6 hours per day.
Green jobs—great. But gray jobs, maybe an even better bet.

If there is a single graphic that everyone concerned with the nation’s future should have tattooed on their eyeballs, my vote goes to this one:

US population over 65 1950 to 2050

Here is its central message: Forty years from now, one out of four Americans will be 65 or older.

Twenty million will be over 85.

One million will be over 100.