On October 1, the world celebrates the UN “International Day of Older Persons”. In 2012 the theme of that day was longevity
We, longevity researchers and advocates from around the world, propose that this theme is made permanent and that we should celebrate International Longevity Day on October the 1st every year henceforth
or designate another day as the International Longevity Day.
The name International Day of Older Persons mainly implies attention to the present needs of the elderly population. Often the issues discussed with reference to “Older Persons” include their participation in communal life, struggle with discrimination based on age and ability, improving the immediate living conditions for the elderly. These issues are vital. Yet International Longevity Day will take the struggle for the well being of the elderly one step further. It will set forth the goal of healthy longevity as a common humanitarian cause that needs to be struggled for by each and all, equally by the older and younger persons, by all the segments of society and by all the nations of the world.
International Longevity Day will advocate the advancement of healthy longevity for the entire population through scientific research, public health, advocacy and social activism. International Longevity Day will no longer be about the value-neutral and indifferent growing older, but will emphasize both the problems of aging as well as the sources of hope. We can state clearly and openly: The deteriorative aging process is a grave problem, both for the individual and the society, while the achievement of healthy longevity by the population is its solution.
The debilitating aging process is the root cause of most chronic diseases afflicting the world population. This process causes the largest proportion of disability and mortality, and needs to be treated accordingly. Society needs to dedicate efforts toward its treatment and correction, as for any other cause of debilitation.
The problem of aging is grave and threatening. Yet, we often witness an almost complete oblivion to its reality and severity. There is a tendency to ignore the future, to distract the mind from aging and death from aging, and even to present aging and death in a misleading, apologetic and utopian light. At the same time, there is an unfounded belief that aging is a completely unmanageable, inexorable process. This disregard of the problem and this unfounded sense of impotence do not contribute to the improvement of the wellbeing of the aged and their healthy longevity. There is a need to present the problem in its full severity and importance and to act for its solution or mitigation to the best of our ability.
We wish to raise the public awareness of the problem of aging in its full scope. We call the public to recognize this severe problem and dedicate efforts and resources – including economic, social-political, scientific, technological and media resources – to its maximal possible alleviation for the benefit of the aging population, for their healthy longevity. We promote the idea that mental and spiritual maturation and the increase in healthy longevity are not synonymous with aging and deterioration.
We advocate the reinforcement and acceleration of basic and applied biomedical research, as well as the development of technological, industrial, environmental, public health and educational measures, specifically directed for healthy longevity. If given sufficient support, such measures can increase the healthy life expectancy of the aged population, the period of their productivity, their contribution to the development of society and economy, as well as their sense of enjoyment, purpose and valuation of life.
We advocate that the development of scientific measures for healthy longevity be given the maximal possible public and political support that it deserves, not only by the professional community but also by the broad public.
Some of the practical steps toward achieving healthy longevity by the population will involve:
1) Ensuring a significant increase of governmental funding for goal oriented progress on preventing the deteriorative aging process and for achieving healthy longevity at all stages of human life.
2) Developing and adopting legal and regulatory frameworks that give incentives for goal oriented research and development designed to specifically address the development, registration, administration and accessibility of drugs and other therapies that will ameliorate the aging process.
3) Establishing medical advisory boards, nationally and internationally, to develop clinical guidelines to modulate the aging process, and national and international scientific advisory boards to steer future useful research on the topic.
Yet, clearly, such measures will take time and massive communal investment and effort. In contrast, the present appeal proposes an immediate and simple measure, which, however, can contribute to changing the public attitude to the problems of aging and longevity.
We propose celebrating the International Longevity Day during the International Day of Older Persons or another specially dedicated day – to help change public attitude to healthy longevity from negative or indifferent to positive and proactive!
We hope you support our efforts.