I have read this recent opinion in the New York Times “Age and Its Discontents” by author Louis Begley and it resonated so much with my personal feelings about the topic. The author vividly describes the last years of his mother’s life, who had been a widow for the previous 40 years before her death. Begley lets us feel the pain in her joints and in her heart. He obviously sees aging as nothing but misery and loneliness. But I think he misses the point – he believes his mother’s solitude is the reason of her woes, but it actually is aging, her declined health, pain and suffering – these are the real reasons of her tragedy. If she had been young she would have had no diseases, but only good looks and the opportunity to start over, but alas! she rot alive. Louis Begley caught the very overwhelming in its inevitability, horrifying feeling that it’s all over, no need to buy new costumes. They will not be worn for a long time and they’re not worth spending time and money.
Mr. Begley was widely criticized – and by whom? Who do you think justified aging? Executive director and chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation wrote:
Mr. Begley’s bitter portrayal of aging is neither universal nor inevitable.
This is unbelievable. So wrong. In reality it’s exactly the opposite – aging is universally debilitating and inevitable. While this type of words are coming out of the mouths of people who are the advocates for aging research, nothing good will happen. There will be no money for research to live longer in a younger body. And the reason is the faulty idea that aging can be healthy, productive, or enjoyable. It can’t by definition. Aging is the worst thing and it’s happening to everyone of us every second of our lives, sucking up our strength, youth and beauty. I want to fight this widely spread idea of how old age is full of pleasure, when your grandchildren sit on your lap. Sure, that’s nice, but it’s not even remotely enough. For example, it would be much better to have the possibility to go to a night club after your grandchildren’s visit and be able dance all night long. But this can never happen while we have leaders of Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundations saying that aging is ok. Opinion leaders have to understand how harmful justifying aging is – this position is killing us.
And I want to live. I want all the people on Earth to live. In order to achieve this everybody who is involved in the field of aging has to be more courageous. They have to speak up for themselves and for their work. They have to say that they want to fight aging, that they want life extension. Cancer researchers say that cancer is their greatest enemy, that cancer has to be illuminated and viola – the amount of money that went to cancer research from the National Cancer Institute in 2010 was almost 5.1 billion dollars – that’s like 5 times more than on aging. And cancer is just an individual case of an aging-related pathology. We have to learn from oncologists, cancer researchers and advocates. We are fighting aging and we have to speak about it freely and explicitly. Make no mistake – our goal is to defeat aging completely.