Phys. Essay

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A NEW APPROACH TO GERONTOLOGY: . Life is a gift Nature offers to its inhabitants. Since eternity is only reserved to the Gods inhabiting the Olympus, death is an inevitable consequence of life. While measures taken are extending -in terms of years- the life expectancy, the quality of life needs also to be enhanced. Research is being conducted in disability-free life expectancy so we can predict that the aging process will be in the future more successful. Indeed, scientists can effectively build-up the conditions that will make the transition from life to death –the process which we call “aging”- more satisfying. Nevertheless, important questions arise from these new trends: what do we actually mean by “Successful Aging”? Is there a measure for the accomplishment of the aim of life? Can we assure a life style that will conduce to a death with dignity? Can a virtuous life bring happiness? This work presents a brief review on the health indicators and enhancers followed by proposals for health priorities that should bconsidered when making appropriate decision for gerontology policies. We argue that health indicators can only give a rough idea about “Successful Aging”, only health enhancers can assure it. LIFE EXPECTANCY AND QUALITY OF LIFE Baby boomers face the prospect of surviving to very old age, and those who have already reached the age of 65 have a life expectancy of an additional 16 to 20 years (Hoyert et al, 1999). However, for some authors, these additional years may be not so “long”. Hayflick, 2000, claimed that even if the common age-related pathologies as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer were resolved, only about 15 years of life expectancy would be added in the developed world. That is, if a person reaches 65 years of age in good health, he/she may have only a quarter or more of his/her life

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