Drugs that target biological pathways that underpin ageing and interventions that turn back cells' “epigenetic clock” could soon extend our healthy years long into old age. This could completely reshape the dynamics of ageing populations and will require fundamental shifts in public health policy, economic planning, and labour relations.
- Where will breakthroughs in radical health extension come from?
- How will societies change as the number of healthy older people grows?
- How can we ensure boosting health span becomes a global priority?
“Ageing research was once a field in which it was not believed that people could alter the ageing process, but now most researchers think it is possible.
“People living longer lives raises fundamental questions about inequality based on demographics, geography, and socioeconomic status.
“Distinguishing between biological and chronological ageing would be helpful, partly because older people can still contribute as workers, investors, teachers, mentors, social and childcare workers. Promoting good health among elderly people is, therefore, crucial.
“New tools (pharmaceutical and natural products, gene therapies, and stem cells treatments) might increase the average lifespan to 120 years; blood biomarkers may determine the biological age of a person.
“Among the chief questions to be addressed are how to organise social protections and care, and to balance retirement ages with the workforce and funding for social safety nets.
“The wider implications raise fundamental questions about how people structure the “biographies” of their lives; new language might be needed that is based on health status, rules, and functions, other than actual age.