Governments and large international entities have in many cases published quite expensive and detailed positions on aging. They commonly urge individual and collective action based on the impending collapse of entitlement systems due to changing demographics. The growing number of older people relative to the size of the population as a whole makes pensions, government-run health systems, and the like, increasingly unsustainable in their present form. Something must change. That change must be the development and widespread deployment of therapies to treat the underlying mechanisms of aging, so as to slow and reverse the process of aging. Sadly that is the one approach to the challenge that never appears in these proposals, following the lead of the WHO's 2015 World Report on Aging and Health and 2020 Decade of Healthy Aging, which interventions to slow and reverse aging are not mentioned. The EU Green Paper on Aging discussed here is similarly entirely blind to the role of medical research in the future of aging.
"The Green Paper on Ageing highlights the importance of healthy and active ageing and lifelong learning as the two concepts that can enable a thriving ageing society. Active ageing necessitates promoting healthy lifestyles throughout our lives, including consumption and nutrition patterns, as well as encouraging physical and social activity. Lifelong learning means a constantly acquiring and updating of skills helping people to remain employable and succeed in job transitions."
Active ageing and lifelong learning are important, obvious, and attractive ideas but we would argue that without really addressing the underlying problem of accelerated biological aging and functional decline giving rise to the fundamental problem related to the demographic challenges promoting these ideas alone and proposing them as the remedy is akin to trying to build a house without a foundation.
The three biggest problems of the current Green Paper on Ageing are all rooted in the missed opportunity of learning from and applying the latest biomedical, scientific and technological results. This way the potential effect of this most decisive scientific and technological trend is rendered invisible concerning the changing demographics and hence actually and actively downplaying the role science and technology might play in the long term permanent solution.
1. The Green Paper on Ageing is missing the elephant in the room behind changing demographics affecting Europe (and the world): the real, life-compromising burden of accelerated biological aging in the second half of life, already present in middle age, and reaching its climax in older people.
2. The Green Paper on Ageing appears oblivious to science's current view on the malleability of the biological aging process, and the already mainstream translational geroscience paradigm that offers an interventionist approach to potentially slow, stop, reverse, or rejuvenate these aging processes in order to significantly increase healthy human lifespan.
3. Due to the previous 2 points the Green Paper on Ageing ignores the primary long-term policy solution of the demographic challenge: supporting the focused development and equitable access of science-intensive healthy longevity technologies for all EU citizens.