Are Successful Aging and Anti-Aging Competing Ideas? (Family)

By Pamela D Wilson CSA, CG, MS, BS/BA

 Aging is a hot topic especially since so many baby boomers a have passed or are near approaching the age of 65. News, articles and television commercials all focus on different aspects of aging such as prevention, managing chronic disease, the struggles of caring for aging parents and end of life.

What is successful aging? Successful aging was first defined in 1961 as “the condition of individual and social life under which the individual person gets a maximum of satisfaction and happiness”.  Anti-aging, on the other hand, supports the idea that the aging process can be interrupted by biomedical interventions to delay or reverse aging. (Flatt, M., Settersten, R., Ponsaran, R., Fishman, J., 2010)

Depending on your personal beliefs, you may support both ideas or be skeptical of the anti-aging industry that is comprised of maintenance, beauty and treatment products.  This industry, according to a PR Newswire report is expected to grow from $261.9 billion by the end of 2013 to $345.8 billion by 2018. Skeptics oppose the anti-aging industry saying that it promotes fear of aging by supporting a belief that the Fountain of Youth exists. Others say that the products offer hope but no real solutions.

On the other hand, gerontologists who believe in successful aging focus on the idea of personal responsibility to reduce the likelihood of disease through diet, exercise and social interaction. The idea of having to work to age successfully may be less appealing than the idea of taking a pill or applying a magic lotion.

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©2014 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

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