The Line Between Health Advocacy and Aging Apologism

My eye was caught - hard to avoid noticing if you spend any time perusing health websites - by Dr. Weil's latest round of combined business advertising and health advocacy. The good doctor is an excellent example of the sort of health advocacy that also serves as an apologism for degenerative aging. The latest Time cover story is a good example of the sort of commentary I have in mind. "Degenerative aging - what a thing! It's just great to slowly lose your faculties, capabilities, and ultimately your life, if you only go about it this way." I exaggerate, but the real thing isn't much better. Whatever we might like to tell ourselves, age-related degeneration is not good, never good:

Without action now, your future will be one of pain and suffering, of the slow destruction of your body and mind. Aging is not noble. It is not romantic. It is a slow and increasingly terrible disease - no one goes quietly or with dignity.

I realize that it is simply human nature to justify to yourself the general excellence and correct nature of the slowly heating pot of water you happen to find yourself in - it seems to be a helpful adaptation when you can do nothing about the situation. But the years in which "nothing can be done" was true for aging are now past and gone; it is quite clear that patient advocacy for directed, serious anti-aging research could have startlingly effective results over the next 20 to 30 years.

Keep this in mind the next time you read commentary from a health advocate. They may be talking good sense on general health matters, but at the same time most tend to romanticize, accepting and excusing the ugly realities of aging. That's not a good message.

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