Boston—A mania for staving off the signs
of aging permeates culture in the United States. Time robs people of health,
independence, and perspicacity—or so advertisements warn—so everyone
should cling to youth as long as possible.
But is this an accurate picture of aging? Researchers who study those
who reach exceptional old age are finding that the inexorable march toward
the end of life need not be a steady decline. In the last decade, investigators
have been studying the growing number of people who celebrate their 100th
birthday and have found that many centenarians remain hale and hearty well
into their 90s, delaying the onset of age-related diseases and compressing
the time they are ill into a short period at the end of their lives.
Friedrich MJ. Biological Secrets of Exceptional Old Age. JAMA. 2002;288(18):2247-2253. doi:10.1001/jama.288.18.2247