Meditations on Quality of Life/Promised Land or Purgatory; The Quest to Beat Aging; Scientific American Presents; by Catherine Johnson; 6 Page(s)
Isn't it great that we're all going to live to 100? Sure... if we can stay healthy that long. Will greater longevity mean 30 years of quality old age or a 30-year purgatory of pain, disability and isolation? Most of the scientific work on aging concerns the physical body-genes, cells, organs, and plaques in the arteries and brain. As our bodies last longer, however, we face an increasingly daunting challenge to psychological well-being. Even if we live through bone loss, hearing decline, arthritis, heart trouble, cancer and a weakened immune system, the daily battles threaten to wear down our spirit.
Indeed, with a growing arsenal of countermeasures to the physical ailments of aging, quality old age will depend more and more on good mental health. And that's a tough nut to crack, because age weakens our minds as much as our bodies, severely challenging our ability to remain mentally acute and emotionally positive. There is hope, though: science is beginning to provide clues about how to overcome the major mental challenges of old age.