AGELESS THINKING

Creating Positive Transhuman Attitude


By

Natasha V. More
(f/k/a Nancie Clark)

"What disturbs people's minds is not events but their judgments on events."
Epictetus, 500 BC

I. INTRODUCTION

Ageless means to be free of the characteristics associated with age. Thinking means to bring thought to mind by exercising the power of reason. Ageless thinking means to practice the exercise of thinking about maintaining a youthful state, both physically and mentally. How and what we think about age depends on our individual goals. In this essay I will address reasons why ageless thinking is advantageous to optimal living and refer to how ageist thinking shortens our life. I will look at how we become imprisoned and prematurely aged by stereotypical and unfounded beliefs about aging: what it is, how long we can live, different kinds of aging, and to what extent we can affect out aging. I will suggest some psychological and philosophical approaches to becoming ageless, as well as several medical and technological treatments. To conclude, I'll look briefly at some near term and further future means of extending youthful life.

How old are You?

Chronological age can be a helpful growth indicator, in that it does reveal a lot about one's psychology: Bill Gates became a billionaire in his early 30s. A useful gauge, albeit a person reading about Bill Gates' accomplishments might make irrational comparisons and exaggerate a worry about his own money-making capabilities at the same age.

Whenever I hear the words, "How old are you," I stutter for an answer: My chronological age is a matter of years in existence, my biological age is vital, my psychological age is growing, my emotional age is mature, my functional age is young.

Whenever I read the words, "John Doe, 42, won the Olympic ..."; Jennifer Johnson, 28, was rescued ..." I wonder why revealing one's age is really so necessary. The media, influential and dominant in society, acts as a perpetual reminder of how old we are. It's persistent and unnecessary reference to one's age is a constant reminder and places over emphasis on age rather than on the autonomous person. Entertainment Tonight makes a big deal about the age of celebrities. They even exhibit a daily birthday calendar. Seeing someone our own age who looks bad can cause us to think, "Oh no, I hope I don't look like that." Alternatively, seeing a contemporary who looks fantastic, can raise hope or instill an unfair comparison.

When we purchase an item at the store and are asked for identification, the driver's license and credit card aren't enough. The sales clerk also wants to know "your date of birth". Bureaucratic forms persist in claiming entitlement to our age, as do the annoying telephone solicitations, "And, your age, please."

I find this invasion of my life unnecessary. My age is important to my doctor and myself. If the government wants to know my age for an important reason, I will give it. But I do not find it my duty to give my age to anyone for unnecessary reasons. Let me explain. Chronological age pertains to the number of years we have lived on planet Earth. From the moment we pushed our way through the birth canal into the oxygen world. Each year after this moment of celebration adds to what we are defined in the discriminating eyes of society. I have no qualms with my age, only in the manner in which society determines who I am and what I am capable of by my number of years in existence.

"You're 70, your time is up!"
"You're 60 and over the hill, dear boy - middle age, you know."
"You're 40, too old for extravagances."
"You're 30, find a responsible job and invest."
"You're 20, too young to worry about your health."
"You're 7, play with your dolls, not airplanes!"

Recently, I was at a birthday party of a friend. Getting late in the evening and getting more light-hearted, he summoned everyone together for opening presents. Delighted at his moment in the spot light, he read aloud birthday cards.

"It's your birthday! So, have a stiff drink and forget it!" and, "Congratulations! 40 is a great age. Practice saying that until you can do it without whimpering."

At the reading of each card, there was a roar of laughter. My friend even jeered at his own getting older, although I don't think he really was happy about it. He put a throw blanket across his shoulders and mimicked an old man squeezing joy out of remaining moments of youth. I left the party feeling a bit sad. Certainly, we find humor with the encroachment of age. Yet the type of humor the satire which pokes with snideness while pretending to cheer can be damaging. Getting older loses its mystique after 21. After the driver's license and the ability to buy a bottle of beer, the yearly reminder of getting older persists, and persists. Until, we lose an ability to think of our lives as a continual process, but defined by the time-element of a year.

II. AGING: FALSEHOODS, CONFUSIONS & SOLUTIONS

"Heads you win, tails I lose."

What is Ageism?

Age is frequently overused and misused. Irrational prejudice oftentimes occurs in judging a person's capabilities on the basis of the characteristics of a conditioned age group and what we presume as being typical of an age set. We assume that an old person is tired and a young person incapable. Generally our assumptions are followed by actions. If we treat young people as being irresponsible, they may tend to act that way. People are prone to act as they are expected to act.

The term "ageism" was conceived by psychiatrist Robert Butler. His summary is, "ageism can be seen as a process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish this with skin color and gender."

Ageist Assumptions and their Extropic Alternatives

In the rational sense, accepting where we are in our lives is healthy. Ram Dass became famous for his phrase, "Be here now." Remember that one? This doesn't suggest that we need to acquiesce to our position in life, but to recognize where we are. A fine example of this is portrayed in the hit film "Babe." Irrational acquiescence is to recognize that Babe's purpose in life is to be fattened up and eaten. "This is just the way things are," says a Barnyard animal in response to Babe's desire to be more than he is. This farmyard imposed limitation could have prevented Babe from psychologically making any positive changes in his position. Babe chose to follow his own reasoning instead. He chose to become his optimal vision of himself.

Society has made assumptions about aging that are now outdated. Perhaps these assumptions were useful at one time, like old wives tales, but today they no longer serve a purpose. Assumptions are based on presupposed standards. [By whose standards are these assumptions made? ] The following negative concepts perpetuate ageism and instill unhealthy examples in our thinking.

1. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

If the old dog wants to learn new tricks, it can. What is required to learn a new trick is a sense of a purpose, an intention and a flexible nature. I have a dear friend who is an accomplished scientist. He is now, in his young-old years, pursuing talents as an artist. Ageless thinking is the ability to maintain physical and intellectual flexibility in one's life. Intellectual flexibility requires an open and experimental personality. To question how and why we do things and to seek alternatives about how things can be done differently. Ask yourself if something you are doing works well and, if not, test the waters and see how it can be done differently. Take deliberate chances.

2. Our rate of aging is controlled by our environments.

We control our environments. If our current environment is causing entropy, then we can change it. Each person needs to discover what guidelines work best for him. Each one of us has a unique set of experiences and only we can know when we feel most at ease and confident in our environments. Being content with our environments influences our health. Even if our genetics and experiences have carved us into what we currently are, we can self-direct our existence and redesign ourselves. We may resemble our father in looks, or your mother in personality, and our current home may look just like the house we grew up in. If this does not work, we can create ample opportunities to change our looks, change our behavioral patterns and move from the farmhouse in Kansas to a sleek condominium overlooking the Pacific Ocean, or visa versa. We can actively change our environments to flatter and enhance who we want to grow to be like.

3. Grandpa is a dirty old man!

No, he's a sexual senior citizen. Let's take a look at the customized grandparent and how the concept of what a grandparent looks like has changed. If a person has a child at the age of 16 and that child had a child at the age of 16, that would make the person 32 years old and a grandparent. A 32 year old, by today's standards, is young! If a person had a child at 20 and her child reproduced at 20, that person would be a grandmother at 40. Today, 40 is not considered old. Men and women in their 40's can be extremely vital and youthful. The stigma that a grandparent should look like an old gray person sitting in a rocker falling asleep over a book, or rushing about the kitchen with a big apron sampling her peach cobbler and apple dumplings is not today's recipe for grandparenthood. A grandparent can be any age and any style. From old-old to young old to young. A year ago, I was a guest on a televised talk show with a woman in her mid-forties who was recently a Playboy centerfold. She was very attractive, sexy, luscious and a grandmother.

4. The sex drive goes down hill after middle age.

Because "old" in itself is a categorizing term which has been updated to refer to an age group far beyond its original definition, I will have to place some distinction on what is old by today's standards. Let's estimate "old"' as being 70 years of age as of today. In ten years, 70 may be considered middle-age. Today a 70 year old may be "young-old" and have vigor and a sex drive; while another 70 year old may be considered "old-old" and suffer from either physical problems or depression and, therefore, lack sexual desires. The young-old person will most likely enjoy sexual activity a bit more if not only because of his or her attitude towards sexuality and joy of life.

The sex drive declines with age. In males, the sex hormone, testosterone, starts to decline in the early 20's. In females, the sex hormone, estrogen, falls in the mid-30s until menopause. Regardless of these hormonal declines, we can replace lost hormones as well as learn about our own attitudes and bias toward sex to help regenerate feelings about sexuality.

5. Teenagers are irresponsible.

Generally speaking, teenagers are not only responsible but also adventuresome, if not by their hormones alone, in an almost perpetual state of excitement and risk taking. Because of their "raging hormones," teenagers tend to be all over the place. When I was a teenager, my father designed a birthday card for me. He must have had a strain of optimism in his genes, because the card was not only artistic it was uplifting. I still have it. He drew a sketch of me driving my convertible while talking on the phone. He drew bubble-clouds above my heard, each one carrying an icon of something I enjoyed doing painting, writing, lecturing, modeling. Looking back at this picture, I remember the enormous energy I had the impenetrable belief that I could conquer the world! Certainly, I was a rebel rouser, a hard-headed feminist and activist and oftentimes a problem at home, but I was also fearless in my convictions. I was responsible and driven by my ideas and ideals. Teenagers are fueled with conflicting behaviors. The behaviors that are complimented and appreciated the most can become the ones which will be remembered and developed further during the later years in life. "People are prone to act the way they are expected to act."

6. Children should be seen and not heard.

Children should be seen and listened to, nurtured, hugged and reasoned with. Children need to be given a center stage stance; they also need to learn to take back seat. A healthy balance in determining when, where and how to give a child the attention she needs will help to create a responsible, rational adult.

7. After menopause a woman loses her glow.

Not so! After menopause a woman loses her ability to menstruate, monthly aches and pains, hot flashes and mood swings. After menopause a woman gains a sense of accomplishment and a new awareness of life. As said by Germaine Greer, the Australian feminist writer in The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause "The climacteric marks the end of apologizing. The crysalis of conditioning has once for all to break and the female woman finally to emerge."

8. Grown men don't cry.

To place the burden of holding back emotions on the male gender is like truncating the passions of life. Little boys cry. Yet, when they grow up and become men they are told it is unmanly to weep. To assume that it is only acceptable for a boy to show sensitivity, hurt, pain and vulnerability and not a man takes away an essential element in expressing feelings. No wonder men's groups have sprung up during the 1980s. These supportive groups encourage men to express their built up emotions. For a man to withhold feelings at the risk of appearing childish or unmanly can cause more explosive episodes and rage.
"It opens the lungs, washes the countenance, exercises the eyes, and softens down the temper; so cry away. "
Charles Dickens

9. Old people should step aside and make room for the young.

A social explanation for this myth is that in early human history, the villages could only support a limited number of people. Old people were "put out to pasture." Therefore, it became altruistic for the old to take a leave of life so the young could live on.

An evolutionary explanation of this myth is that our genes discriminate. It wasn't in the evolutionary interest of our genes to make life long, as reproduction takes place early in lifespan, and reproduction being the gene's primary interest. Thus, genes have selected against old people. Once genes are passed on, it hasn't been necessary for the creatures, or in our case humans, to live on.

Today, we have plenty of room for both young and old. The immediate response to the idea of extended lifespans is "What about overpopulation?" It has been proven over and over again that there is not an overpopulation problem. Population growth is caused far more by number of births than living longer. Furthermore, if we do exceed the number of individuals that the earth can support by that time, many of us will be soaring across the solar system in high-end designed portable communities with every comfort of earth and more.

10. Age before beauty

This is one of my favorite myths because I love to defy it. Catherine Deneuve, in her late 50s looks beautiful and classy. Raquel Welch was the hit of the 1996 Academy Awards party at Spago's in West Hollywood. Sophia Loren, in her 60s, looks glamorous and elegant. I know, I sat near her at the Palm Springs Film Festival tribute in her honor. These women are more than celebrities and idols they are myth breakers.

As stated by Ann Oakley, British sociologist and author:

"The primary function of myth is to validate an existing social order. Myth enshrines conservative social values, raising tradition on a pedestal. It expresses and confirms, rather than explains or questions, the sources of cultural attitudes and values. . . . Because myth anchors the present in the past it is a sociological charter for a future society which is an exact replica of the present one."
Ann Oakley (b. 1944), British sociologist, author. Woman's Work: The Housewife, Past and Present, ch. 7 (1974).
Our lives are controlled by our way of thinking. If we view life as being short, or governed by categorical time-units of age and lifestyles, we create the state of mind that will dictate the results of such a scenario. Being destitute is a state of mind, or seeing oneself as ill can make it necessarily so.

III. AGE - WHAT IS IT?

Aging is the materialization of biological events that take place over a measure of time. There is no consummate definition of aging, but we know age when we see it. Yet, subjective perceptions of aging based on appearances are oftentimes incorrect.

Here are 6 categories of aging and how we age:

  1. Chronological age - How we define our number of years in existence. Chronological age is only one way to determine age.
    "Chronological age is at best only a rough indication of functional age. Because age norms imposed by society work to constrain behavior, behavior at a particular age cannot be assumed to be a reliable indication for the possibilities of that age."
    Dr. Roy Walford.
    All chronological age measures is the number of hours the Earth has orbited the Sun.

  2. Biological or Physical age - How we view age by physical signs. Physical age is the by-product of DNA damage and repair deficit. Physical age is an indication that the body is breaking down. Physical aging can be described by graying hair, wrinkled skin, fragile body, hazy eyes. It is age of our bodies in regards to critical life signs. Different cells have different ages, since cells get replaced. Cells of the skin, the digestive track, read and white blood cells divide daily, the old ones being discarded. Other cells are replaced every few years. Nerve and muscle cells are our oldest components.

  3. Functional age - How we function as a subset of biological age. Functional age is determined by vigor, flexibility, cardiovascular(aerobic) fitness, strength of the immune system, ability to concentrate, memory.

  4. Psychological age - How old we feel we are. Our psychological age can effect memory loss, depression, lack of sexual desire. (subjective age)

  5. Emotional age - How we adjust to circumstances that cause us to be rational or irrational. How we handle conflict and resolve misunderstandings are markers for our emotional maturity. Emotional age may follow chronological age, or may lag behind, or be ahead.

  6. Intellectual age - How we think critically about ourselves and the world around us. The ability to reason and think critically can benefit our life experiences. Staying updated, flexible and curious about life can help to develop a youthful level of intelligence
Humans and Transhumans (humans who are in an evolutionary transition) alike have a lifespan of approximately 120 years barring an accident or degenerative illness. Currently scientists and life extension visionaries are working towards stretching this lifespans several decades, while other visionaries are working towards an indefinite lifespan. Soon we will be able to understand how and why we age more rapidly than the rate at which we age. With this in mind, we can decide for ourselves how we would like to treat our 120 years. It is up to us, individually, to live an optimal lifestyle or not. It is our choice.

We can begin to turn back to the clock of physical aging by being physically active, eating healthy foods, taking vitamin supplements, exercising, developing muscles and strong bones, and undergoing cosmetic surgery.

IV. STEPS TO AGELESSNESS: PSYCHOLOGICAL

Vitalize Your Thinking

To be an ageless thinker, it is essential to be a creative thinker. Flexibility, openness, optimism, and inventiveness are ways in which we can develop our minds to work against the assumptions and beliefs that make us old.

We are taught that at any particular age, we have a set of tasks and responsibilities to live up to them. We accept them in order to function and satisfy with the least amount of resistance in our world. Although we accept these tasks and responsibilities and make decisions about them, emotionally we still have a longing to be youthful. In order to get along with the rest of the world, quasi rule systems form how we are supposed to act at a specific age to help us find our place in society. Many people long to escape from these responsibilities into a second childhood longing to have the responsibilities of a child, not to care what the world thinks, or to be burdened by the world.

Unfortunately, the world gives honor to those who carry a lot of responsibility. Some people feel an intense drive for responsibility and achievement as a natural process. Others struggle for achievement despite the fact that they long to be free from obligations and come in conflict with their true longings. The effects of age appropriate roles depends on whether it is pleasing or conflict causing. Thus, if the age appropriate role is causing a false sense of self, psychological ailments may arise. It can be difficult to maintain deep fulfillment while living a frenetic lifestyle.

Our most somber assumptions can be provokers of aging. For example, people tend to take on the characteristics of their parents as they grow in years. We may not consciously be aware of our own mutation in becoming more and more like our parents, for it can be a slow and unrecognizable process. Sometimes, when I see my brothers or my sister and a quick glance, I can recognize not only the physical appearance - the style, jesters and mannerisms - but also the language of my parents. One day I saw my sister in almost the identical outfit my mother was wearing. There is thirty years between them, yet excluding their facial characteristics and a difference around their abdomens, they looked like twins. I have found the same similarities between my father who died of cancer any myself when I have felt ill and weak.

Break old patterns. By altering how we have been programmed to see ourselves, we can create new patterns in not only our physical appearance, but also our behavior.

What are Some Characteristics that Accelerate Aging?

What are Some Characteristics that Invite Agelessness?

Be careful what you pay attention to!

  1. How do you respond to someone who asks your age.
  2. Is celebrating a yearly birthday an important event? If so, why? What does it mean to you?
  3. Are all or most of your friends within your same age group?
  4. Watch yourself in a store window as you pass. What do you see?
  5. How do you feel when after taking a brisk walk or exercising?
  6. Do you have a mental image of what you are supposed to look like?

The 6 Steps to Ageless Thinking:

  1. Be open and Flexible. Try new things. If a patterns has developed, try to change it. Learn a new sport, change careers, try risk-taking. If aspects of your life work well for you, change may not be necessary but, perhaps, change the manner in which they are done. Change your name, your fashion, your home. Vacation in a place that you have never been before. Become adventuresome. Make your life a work of Art.

  2. Throw out ideas that age brings decline. Oftentimes, old world peer pressure gets the best of us. "I'm 50, so I should be settled and complacent." Nonsense! A healthy, active, sexy 50 year old can wear mini-skirts and vinyl as well as a Thierry Mugler design or simply Anne Taylor. If the style fits, wear it!

    We must realize the limitations placed upon us by standards that may be inappropriate. We must see ourselves as individuals and unique. We must develop our intelligence to recognize our uniqueness and our capabilities. While pushing beyond the standard limitations, we must move with careful planning. Plan ahead. Know who you are and where you are going.

  3. Discard beliefs of retirement as a pacifier for getting old. The concept of retirement is outdated. To retire from one's livelihood in order to sit in front of a television or in rocker watching the sunset has become passť. More and more people are thinking of retiring many times throughout their lives, only to take a break from one lifestyle or career to regroup and start something new. Many people are having temporary and repeated "retirements". The old retirement has become replaced with a new retirement: rest, retrain and reevaluate. In the past, people would stay at one job for 50 some years and look forward to retiring so they could enjoy a long put-off hobby. Today, people are shifting careers more than once, while taking breaks to study, or play between careers. Today the long put-off hobby is becoming a new career.

  4. Creative Visualization, Meditation and Hypnosis. These methods of altering consciousness have been around for quite some time. They work. Each time I begin to feel that I am aging in a way that I don't like, I take the time to quietly sit with myself and visualize who it is that I really want to be, how I want to look and how I want to feel. I visualize myself pumping iron, lifting weights like Lenda Murray, six-time Ms. Olympia. I ask myself, "How would Lenda feel while lifting this weight," and I envision myself performing the task as she does. The result is beneficial because I give the exercise my "all". I see myself as I see my physical mentor. The same method applies to other areas in my life. When I need to command a charismatic presence, I envision myself just the way I would like to be received. This vision becomes instilled in my mind as a mirror.

    Meditation is one of the most useful tools to get the mind to focus. By meditating before starting the day, or achieving a goal, I am able to establish what is important in achieving my goal and what will be a waste of my time. This method of mental organization allows me to perform my work in a more efficient and effective manner. Meditation is an effective tool for Ageless Thinking because it helps to visualize the goal of being youthful and vital.

    Hypnosis is another mental exercise which has enormous benefit. Dr. David Bresler, the foremost specialist in diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, emphasizes the patient's individual role in controlling discomfort and pain through the use of mental control. Dr. Bresler believes that "by creating and utilizing personalized mental images," through guided imagery hypnotherapy, an individual is able to influence the deepest levels of his mind. Hypnosis is another helpful tool in Ageless Thinking because through its use, minor pains and discomforts that tend to cause us to feel old and fragile can be replaced with positive images. The sledgehammer headache causing anguish and a furrowed brow can fade away by the use of mental control.

  5. Attitude.
    Being a sex symbol has to do with an attitude, not looks. Most men think it's looks, most women know otherwise.
    Kathleen Turner
    How do you carry yourself? What are your opinions, convictions, sentiments, points of view. How do you feel? What is your outlook on life? How would you define your identity, character and abilities? In other words, what is your attitude?

    Just the right attitude has put people on the world map. "If you've got it, flaunt it." With this in mind, if you haven't got it - get it. See yourself as your optimal persona. Be your own Muse and create your identity as an art and "strike a pose." (Madonna)

  6. Critical Thinking. How we decide to think and how we go about thinking is part of staying intellectually and emotionally flexible. Knowing how to challenge dogmas about aging and to critically examining our own limiting beliefs so we can keep growing, improving, developing at any age.

V. STEPS TO AGELESSNESS: PHYSICAL

Vitalize Your Body

There are two issues that need to be addressed: (1) How long can we actually be "young;" and (2) Is physical aging inevitable anyway?

The answer to these questions remains in the hands and expertise of scientists. We can be young for as long as we continue to discover the reasons for aging, the mechanics to stop as well as reverse aging and the technologies for designing a youthful mind and body. Physical aging is inevitable only as long as we remain ignorant about the reasons why we age. When we learn all we can about aging, we can then prevent it. It is a matter of intelligence and time.

Stop Entropy!

The Basics:

Add-Ons

The 3 Essential Steps for Ageless Bodies:

  1. Exercise. Exercise is essential. Its benefits are numerous. Exercise speeds up the metabolism, increases the rate we burn calories and tones the body, strengthens the bones, releases mood-uplifting endorphins, reduces anxiety and stress. There are many types of exercise from quiet at-home workouts to challenging fast-lane sport activities. For example, yoga focuses on flexibility, endurance, balance and massages the internal organs. More active sports such as cycling, skiing, blading and running increase the heart rate, stamina, strength and also outdoor enjoyment. Power exercises such as weight lifting and body building develop muscles, strength and tone. I combine all three of these areas of sports yoga for balance, skiing for the love it and outdoor enjoyment, and body building for my physique. Exercise reduces functional age, but has little or no effect on overall lifespan.

  2. Nutrition, vitamins and hormones. "We are what we eat." Now, this is a myth of substance. The more we learn about our bodies, the more we learn about what it takes to keep our bodies healthy. Diets such as the new media hype, the "Zone" has been successful in steering people towards a glycemic balanced diet. It is also beneficial for people with diabetes, hypo-glycemia, and mood-swings. Its high protein suggested intake makes it beneficial for body builders. Another well-known diet software, Dr. Roy Walford's Interactive Diet Planner is a computer program (The Anti-Aging Plan) based a caloric-restricted diet. Walford's many years of research conclude that a low caloric diet adds years to the average lifespan. I prefer a vegetarian diet, high in protein, low in fats and moderate carbohydrates.

    Because of our unique physical and psychological makeup, each one of us may require a specialized self-regulated diet. Certain specific aspects of formulated diets may be beneficial to your body, while others may cause conflicts, such as allergies or low-tolerance side effects. The best way to approach diet is conscientiously. Read a lot and sample what you have read until you find the diet which gives you the most energy and the least gastronomical problems. Learn about vitamins and supplement your nutritious diet with them. Learn critical thinking to be able to evaluate claims for new diets.

    According to Dr. Ray Sahelian, melatonin could be used to prolong lifespan because of its ability to enhance the immune system, regulate hormonal levels and act as an antioxidant. Melatonin research has found that it contains free radical neutralizers. Because melatonin decreases in our bodies as we age, "melatonin, taken as a supplement, could slow down the aging process." (Melatonin Nature's Sleeping Pill, 1995)

    One aspect of aging that we can control is replacing our decline in hormone levels. These would include estrogen, melatonin, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone, and possibly others. Two of these hormones are available without a prescription are melatonin and DHEA. Therefore, it is our responsibility to learn all the facts and decide if we need to take hormones, how they could benefit our health and how much of these hormones would be appropriate for our unique circumstances.

  3. Cosmetic Surgery. Facial skin tends to loosen and sag with time and fine lines appear around the eyes and lips. As the years pass, these creases become deep wrinkles. Facial skin aging is generally due to two factors: environment and gravity. The environmental factors such as sun, squinting, smoking, poor nutrition, and toxins can cause wrinkling and skin discolorations. Gravity acts as a pulling agent, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and drop around the brow, eyelids, jowls and neck causing a sagging look.

    Innovations in cosmetic surgery are continually upgrading how doctors treat the effects of aging. Dr. Richard Clark, plastic and reconstructive surgeon located in Northern California, is a pioneer in designing youthful faces and bodies. He advises each patient on an individual basis. His technique depends on the needs of the patient. He suggests that surgery and "lifting" as a means of altering the effects of gravity and peels and laser to correct environmental damage to the skin. Environmental effects: brown spots, sun damage, little wrinkle can be tended to with alpha hydroxy, Retin A and glycolic acid. As an alternative, a TCA peel (trichloroacetic acid) helps diminish fine lines and discoloration.

    For deep wrinkles where the skin loses its elastic fibers and becomes leathery, Dr. Clark suggests the use of a co2 ultrapulse laser to take off superficial layer of skin down to the dermas layer. For stronger wrinkling, a phenol peel is used to burn the skin. This is referred to as a chemical peel whose action may cause damage to the natural color or pigmentation of the skin.

    If the brow is dropping, Dr. Clark suggests an endoscopic approach (forehead treatment) which lifts the scalp to take out the traverse lines in the forehead and a possible removal of specific muscles which will eliminate the furrowing of the brow.

    The fact lift pulls the skin back off the face and eliminates the lose look. The result is a youthful tone. The best candidates for a facelift is a man or woman whose face and neck have started to sag, but the skin has retained its elasticity. The facelift can improve deep cheek folds, jowls and lose skin around the neck.

    In summary, if skin the damage is from too much sun, poor diet, smoking or other environmental factors, a skin peel with laser is an optimal suggestion. If the wrinkles are deep, a chemical peel will give a youthful tone. If the skin is sagging due to gravity's pull, then surgery is needed to lift up the skin.

VI. TOWARDS THE END OF AGING

The single most important factor in Ageless Thinking is to think as an individual. One's autonomy is the most valuable aspect of existence. With this in mind, we can decide for ourselves what is essential in developing and maintaining our individual lives and how to establish goals to achieve our desires. If the goal is to live a healthy life, we can adjust our activities to align with the physiological and psychological findings that are best suited to healthy living. We can abolish ageist myths and implement creative ways to enrich our lives. We can redefine our identities to suit our goals. We can learn to think in ways that remove stigmas and constraints placed upon society by the thought of old age and dying.

We must seek the challenges of modifying ourselves, creating distinct views, embracing new behaviors, and welcoming the unfamiliarity of change. When it is our choice to explore challenges, we begin to take charge of our future. Our individuality is our dignity. The knowledge that is gained, the wisdom of experience, become the helping hand of change. The more we challenge our existence and make attempts to learn new skills, the more in balance with our own identities we may become.

Science and technology are not standing still. Just as we are carving our own new identities, science is also finding its place in the anti-aging movement. New information on how we view aging is occurring in many scientific communities. Genetic engineering is having an impact on how we age and reversing it. Hormone replacement therapy is being used to counter age decline. New markers of aging are redefining the categories of age. Becoming aware that we can live longer is effecting people's desire to live longer. Cosmetic surgery is giving us extra years of youthfulness. Nanotechnologies and artificial intelligence are developing important roles in medicine and aging. Cryonics is the best available safety net for extreme longevity.

What can we do right now to take charge of our future?

"Today by carefully applying the technology developed during the past century (especially in the past 20 years), it may be possible to develop a practical, custom tailored, medically safe and scientifically sound life-extension (anti-aging) program. Currently, such a program is limited to the types of intervention" such as "diet, exercise, supplements, hormones, drugs, and monitoring). In the foreseeable future, however, techniques such as using drugs, hormones and neurotransmitters in slow release capsules, grafting tissue from hypothalamus, pineal and other areas of the brain, and genetic manipulation of aging control programs will all become available. Each year that one gains by preserving one's health and prolonging one's life now, significantly improves the chances that one will be around to enjoy the benefits of the tremendous rejuvenation technologies which will become available in the future."
Christopher B. Heward, Ph.D., The Endocrinology of Aging
What are the bio-markers in determining age? How do we know which bio-markers are dependable? Is there available a reliable way to ascertain our functional age?

We age differently depending on which bio-marker we are looking at. We may be in good shape cardiovascularly but have poor elasticity in skin due to over exposure to the sun. Our bodies change with time. The best approach is to look at a broad spectrum of aspects of aging. It is not simple, or inexpensive, and there is still little data available on these factors.

What is a bio-marker of aging? Biomarkers of aging are indicators of how far we are progressing on the pathway of degenerative diseases that are associated with death. Any biomarkers that give us a clue about how this degenerative progression can tell us our functional age and longevity. Some bio-markers are more reliable than others. For example, cardiovascular fitness is important but may not be as important as cholesterol levels and homocysteine levels, the amino acid that is a marker of cardiovascular risk.

An athlete such as an ice skater who appears to be physically fit, suddenly dies of a heart attack. Jim Fixx died before 40 despite being a top runner. Although heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death, young, healthy individuals are considered to be out of risk. How could this happen? Are we using a wrong gauge to determine our health? What is going on biochemically and biologically? We need to know the risk factors.

Over the course of our lives, we probably get and beat many cancers that happen because our immune system is functioning at an optimal level. Yet, as we get older, or if our immune system weakens, our body's loses its ability to recognize and fight off the invasive cancers. This retardation in recognizing the cancer as being a non-self and to produce antibodies and mobilize white blood cells to take charge allows the cancer to grow. Cancer is the number 2 cause of death.

What if there was a lucid test to checkout our immune system and see how it is faring? What if we could simple check in on a daily or weekly basis and summon up different bio-marker for a report on how we are aging? Dr. Christopher Heward has developed such a test, BioMonitor. BioMonitor is a consistent measure of how we are functioning physiologically and compares that to our chronological age and our rate of aging. We then can make adjustments in biological selves.

The far future is coming into near range with undertakings such as the Human Genome Project which is an international effort by geneticists to decode all two billion base pairs of the human genome. The human genome is the entire set of genes. Another area of close-range explosion is the application of gene therapy to medical problems. These techniques will alter genetic programs and alter the rate of aging.

Scientists are discovering that the program of life is becoming more fully understood. If we view organisms as machines, we can understand the programs organisms are being run by. Because of the process of evolution, the programs of organisms have much in common. The human genome project is planned to be complete by 2005, but already Human Genome Sciences Corporation in collaboration with The Institute for Genomic Research have become familiar with thousands of genes which make up the human genome. This is accomplished by isolating genes to study what a gene/protein does. Its regulation requires further sequencing.

If we view our genes as a computer operating system with many lines of code it becomes difficult to make a clear comparison. However, we have created massive and complex computer operating systems and have the intelligence to understand them fully. We can assume that a reasonable number of people working on specific aspects of the human genome should be able to comprehend the human program works.

The process of understanding our physical makeup - our genes - and their relationship to aging is an enormous undertaking. Just imagine a settler in the late 1800's who has been crossing the planes in a covered wagon, old before his time, being given a shiny new red Ferrari along with a portable computer and cellular phone. Imagine a young woman in the 1700's in New England, unable to explore her own imagination, being censored, restricted and bullied by the town masters for having tea with her friends, imagine her attending a televised presentation where a woman not only hosts the show, but makes forthright statements about her own views openly in front of millions of people and whose voice is carried across electronic wires across the entire world!

Now, imagine our scientists, engineers and visionaries one hundred years from now and the work that has been accomplished in genetics and altering or controlling the rate of aging.

"These facts and projections point toward a rapid understanding of the aging process and an application for technologies to significantly extend lifespan. These technologies will be developed and applied faster than we age. The net result will be an unlimited maximum lifespan. Will people live forever? Not as biological machines. "
Robert Bradbury, Centre for Studies of Aging, University of Toronto
Nanotechnology involves the study of chemistry, physics and engineering to build objects or machines atom by atom. To add significantly to lifespan, a nano machine could repair aged issues and organs. Nano machines might also be used to reanimate people who have been frozen in cryonic suspension. Further in our future will be the integration of the human/transhuman being and machine. That will be a time for a possible cybernetic immortality.

If their desire is to learn about life, to extend life, then through the use of technology and masterly skill, we all will benefit from the tenacity and labor of their efforts. We can also become paralleling visionaries in our own rights stretching beyond the constraints of yesterday's and today's limitations on our lifespan and our creativity.

VII. AGELESSNESS NOW!

In summary, we are on the journey of life extension. It is not a Gulliver's Travels. We are not interested in a society where people grow older and more feeble but never to die. We are primarily interested in extending life indefinitely and adding to the quality of life. The quality of life must be of a high standard and designed in such a way as to give people a reason for living longer. What we are envisioning is a future where old age doesn't exist as it has ever been known before. It is a future where we can grow healthier and more youthful as long as we wish. Come along, take the dare, and reinvent your selves to be whatever and whomever you desire.
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Anders Sandberg / asa@nada.kth.se