O'Reilly logo

Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume IV, Wellbeing in Later Life by Cary L. Cooper, Thomas B. L. Kirkwood

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

3

Biological Determinants and Malleability of Aging

Thomas B. L. Kirkwood

Newcastle University, U.K.

Introduction

The defining characteristic of the aging process—the one that poses the ultimate threat to wellbeing—is that the longer we live, the more vulnerable we become to disease, disability, and frailty. Indeed, in developed nations today by far the majority of medical attention is focused on diseases for which age itself is the single biggest risk factor. Yet although age increases vulnerability to dementia, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, cataract, diabetes, and many other conditions as well, there is still great uncertainty about the extent to which aging is simply the sum of all these multiple disease processes, or something else entirely. We saw in Chapter 2 how the rapid pace of increase in life expectancy is changing our view of the life course. Not only are we living longer, but the demographic evidence suggests that we need to abandon the long-held, and still widely popular, belief that there exists some fixed, in-built limit to human longevity. Fortunately, the scientific advances in understanding the biological basis of the aging that have accrued over the last decades also tell us to discard the idea that aging has some fixed, biologically programmed nature at its core (Kirkwood & Melov, 2011).

Instead of being programmed, we shall discover later in this chapter the growing consensus that aging results from the gradual, lifelong accumulation of molecular and ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required