Plastic Surgeons expend great effort toward hiding, or, to an extent, reversing the effects of aging. Surgery is our main tool used to combat the effects of aging, especially as patients live to more advanced ages. Although these patients undoubtedly feel better about themselves and derive advantages from the improved quality of life, the actual length of the patients life-span is minimally affected. Of late, much effort has been directed toward and increasing the individual’s life-span.
The traditional approach to anti-aging medicine has involved multiple disciplines, but commonly has been the domain of physicians practicing geriatric medicine. They have focused on conditions such as senile dementia, chronic rheumatologic and cardiovascular diseases. The last decade, however, has seen involvement by scientists, physicians, sport medicine specialists, endocrinologists, chiropractors etc., adopting a preventative approach to aging, with efforts beginning in early middle age. The emphasis has changed from treating disease to focusing on areas such as nutrition, supplements, genetic testing, exercise and mental stress relief. These are all accepted, mostly proven modalities of improving healthy life span. With the constant infinitive of the secrets of genetic chromosomal make-up, newer aging profiles are being defined, and manipulation of chromosomes, hormonal interventions and enzymatic solutions are being experimented with, in an effort to alter the aging process. In this vein, the layman has been introduced to hundreds of ‘easy-fix’ solutions to aging and supplements of vitamins, herbs, hormones, injections have all been introduced to the battlefield. It is essential that we take an academic approach to the subject and focus on the scientific data at hand.
Consider the 4 theories of aging:
Behavioral factors are not to be overlooked when considering life span. Emotional and mental health, long stable marriages and relationships, strong families, participation in community affairs, active spiritual life, social interaction, a personal interest in work, hobbies, education and learning, all provide meaningful reasons to live and are.
31 October 2002
Prof Alan D Widgerow