I'm not a big fan of the phrase "successful aging." It is a popular shorthand among researchers who investigate means of slowing aging and reducing incidence of age-related disease, but who do not wish to talk in public about extending human life span. So it is a problematic fig leaf on that count, but it is also a contradiction in terms. Aging is damage and degeneration, and so what if you manage to die, slowly and painfully, a shadow of your former self, just a little later than your peers? Why is that counted a success?
When we look elsewhere in the medical community, this lack of ambition and acceptance of disease is not what we see. Take cancer research, for example: it doesn't matter how many months that scientists manage to add to a terminal patient's life span, you'll never hear them talking about "successful terminal cancer" as a desired outcome. The measure of success in cancer research is to produce a cure, and that should also be the measure of success for aging, so that the research community aims to prevent and reverse age-related degeneration and disease, such as through implementation of the SENS proposals. Anything less is ridiculous: it is to say that degeneration, pain, and suffering are acceptable, and we should do nothing much about it. That is clearly the antithesis of what should mean to be involved in medical research and development.
I think that Maria Konovalenko of the Science for Life Extension Foundation is correct in noting here that the phrase "healthy aging" has essentially all of the same issues given the way it is presently used in the research and medical communities. It is a contradiction in terms: aging is explicitly the process of becoming less healthy. The fundamental definition of aging is that it is a rise in the chance of dying due to increasing tissue dysfunction, which doesn't sound a great deal like health to me.
[Craig Venter's institute] has received 1.25 million dollars from the Ruggles Family Foundation to study the biomarkers of healthy aging. This study makes no sense to me, because they want to look at the differences in health between sick people and even sicker people and call the results of the study markers of healthy aging. They propose to measure the right things, but what the study planners are missing here is the fact that aging itself is a disease. Aging can't be healthy, because the underlying biological mechanisms that are causing age-related pathologies are active also in those aged individuals, who don't have those diseases.
These people are considered to be just old, but not sick. That's exactly what's wrong with perception of aging. Everyone who reached a certain age is considered to be simply old, but not ill. However this person is 100% not healthy in a biological sense, because a lot of detrimental processes have already started their poisonous actions and altered the youthful state of the organism.
Here's what important - we need to change the perception of aging, so there would be no confusing terms like "healthy aging", which is an oxymoron. It's like "dignified poverty", or "merciful tyrant". Aging is not and can not be healthy. Aging is itself a disease. It is also the cause of many other maladies like Alzheimer's and stroke, and many others. We have to stop using the term healthy aging, because it is already making us conduct poorly designed research experiments.