Ahead of the Castration Trend

“According to new research, there may be a surprisingly effective way for men to increase their lifespans — but it requires a pretty severe alteration to the physical body that may not appeal to everybody.

An international team led by researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand were able to show that castration of male sheep delays the aging of DNA, and the same principles could apply to humans as well.

–Victor Tangermann, “Wanna Delay Aging? Get Castrated, Scientists Say
It’s not an ideal solution
..” Futurism. July 7, 2021.

I’ll just point to “Ask Your Doctor: Is Castration Right For You?” published on this very blog on May 25, 2017. Now, we can add sheep to the myriad examples.

Hang In There Until You’re Sixty

“…try to hang in there until you’re sixty. Then you’ll find you don’t have to worry about what people say any more and, as a consequence, life becomes a whole lot more interesting.

Entering your sixties brings with it a warm and fuzzy feeling of freedom through redundancy, through obsolescence, through living outside of the conversation and forever existing on the wrong end of the stick. What a relief it is to be that mad, embarrassing uncle in the corner of the room, a product of his age, with his loopy ideas about free speech and freedom of expression, with his love of beauty, of humour, chaos, provocation and outrage, of conversation and debate, his adoration of art without dogma, his impatience with the morally obvious, his belief in universal compassion, forgiveness and mercy, in nuance and the shadows, in neutrality and in humanity — ah, beautiful humanity — and in God too, who he thanks for letting him, in these dementing times, be old.”

—Nick Cave, “I’m struggling a bit with the fact I’m turning 40 in a week. Some people say “You’re in the brightest part of your life”, others say you are an “old man”. What is your perspective on getting old?RedHandFiles.com. June 2021.

70 Over 70 Podcast

“You know those 30 under 30 lists that make you feel kinda inadequate and terrible? 70 Over 70 is the opposite of that. Max Linsky talks to 70 remarkable people all over the age of 70 about their lives — what they’ve learned, what they’re still trying to figure out and how they’re thinking about what comes next.”

70 Over 70

Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) and Aging

“AKG is part of the metabolic cycle that our cells use to make energy from food. In addition to its use by bodybuilders, doctors sometimes treat osteoporosis and kidney disease with the supplement.

The molecule grabbed attention as a possible antiaging treatment in 2014, when researchers reported AKG could extend life span by more than 50% in tiny Caenorhabditis elegans worms. That’s on par with a low-calorie diet, which has been shown to promote healthy aging, but is hard for most people to stick with. Other groups later showed life span improvements from AKG in fruit flies.

In the new study, Gordon Lithgow and Brian Kennedy of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and colleagues turned to mammals. They gave groups of 18-month-old mice (about age 55 in human years) the equivalent of 2% of their daily chow as AKG until they died, or for up to 21 months. AKG levels in blood gradually drop with age, and the scientists’ aim was to restore levels to those seen in young animals.

Some differences jumped out within a few months: “They looked much blacker, shinier, and younger” than control mice, says Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, a postdoc at the Buck Institute who did the experiments as a graduate student. In addition, the AKG-fed mice scored an average of more than 40% better on tests of “frailty,” as measured by 31 physiological attributes including hair color, hearing, walking gait, and grip strength. And female mice lived a median of 8% to 20% longer after AKG treatment began than control mice, the group reports today in Cell Metabolism.”

Jocelyn Kaiser, “Bodybuilding supplement promotes healthy aging and extends life span, at least in mice.” Science. September 1, 2020.

What is Old?

“Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov suggest that we classify old age by looking closer at the end. Instead of counting the number of years someone has lived (and whether or not they’re at least 65), we can go the other direction and look at the number of expected years left. They recommend the 15-year mark, as shown below.”

—Nathan Yau, “Redefining Old Age.” Flowing Data. August 26, 2020.

Depending on whether you live in the United States and which state you live, average life expectancy is between 75-82 years. If we use this 15 year rule, old age is ages 60-67. I’m not sure how this is an improvement over using 65 years old as a shorthand.

I think the more interesting conversation in aging should center on function, such as living independently, and redefining old age as a state where support is required.

20th Century Women

20th Century Women is such a lovely little movie. Part coming of age story. Part a story about aging. Part a story about male/female relationships that explores how difficult these are to navigate, particularly given our collective idiosyncrasies and brokenness. Recommended.

Older and Living Apart Together (LAT)

Open Question: Does living alone position people for having a broader social support network?

“I don’t want to take care of anybody. I want to take care of me,’ said Nadell, who divorced her second husband two decades ago. ‘You want to be friends and get together, when I say it’s okay to get together? Fine. But to be in a relationship where I have to answer to somebody else? Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.'”

As these solo dwellers age, the question becomes what happens when they grow frail and need someone to lean on. DePaulo argued that those who live alone often maintain broader networks of support than married couples do, pointing to a raft of international research. Partners who live separately for some portion of the week still tend to each other in sickness, and are well-positioned as caregivers because “we have our own place to recharge our batteries and avoid the all-too-frequent caretaker burnout,” said Hyman, 57, who has lived away from her partner for 20 years.”

-Zosia Bielski, “The new reality of dating over 65: Men want to live together; women don’t.” The Globe And Mail. November 26, 2019.

Hinadan, a Mobile Game App For Apple by 82-Year-Old Developer Who Bought Her First Computer at 60

“It was easy because I have no one to care for me, whether it’s good or bad,” 83-year-old Masako Wakamiya said of building her first mobile app. In 2017, she launched Hinadan, a game aimed at elderly users…Wakamiya bought her first computer when she was approaching 60 — mostly to keep up with friends while she took care of her elderly mother.”

—Jane Sit and Yoko Wakatsuki, “How an 83-year-old found a new lease on life developing mobile apps.” CNN. March 24, 2019.