Focus on your Healthspan, not your lifespan.
This week a professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) announced clinicians, scientists and public health professionals should “declare victory” in their efforts to extend the human lifespan. In an article published in JAMA, S. Jay Olshansky went on to suggest attention should switch to our “Healthspan”, with the focus shifting to extending the length of time when we are alive and healthy and compressing the “red zone”, the time at the end of life characterized by frailty and disease. Referred to as the First Health Revolution, this new approach for public health (which is to target aging) is seen as a highly effective method of primary prevention.
A consortium of scientists as well as public health experts and organizations has formed with the purpose of developing this new approach to extend healthspan, address the diseases of aging, and help to ameliorate the economic challenges of an anticipated rising prevalence of late-onset diseases. This effort is called the Longevity Dividend Initiative or geroscience.
Of course, addressing the challenge of extending the ‘Healthspan’ of the over 65s means addressing problematic lifestyle habits much earlier; healthier living = smarter ageing, with 50 a critical point for timely reflection and change from the perspective of improving the ‘Healthspans’ of the over 65s. Early action reduces the risk of frailty intervening too early, leading to a longer duration of the ‘Red Zone’.
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