EXTENDING LIFE ... The emerging field of "geroscience" is based on the premise that scientists can target the aging process itself , rather than treating diseases one at a time, medical researchers said in a July 26 panel discussion on longevity. Eric Verdin, president and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Marin County and professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco, was among the speakers on the panel discussion "Extending Life," sponsored by the Longevity Project in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity . While new drugs targeting aging hold great potential, Verdin said lifestyle factors like exercise, diet and social connection also have profound effects on longevity. If healthy lifestyles were broadly adopted, "an average lifespan of 95 at this stage for the American population is not a crazy thing to say that we can do," Verdin said. That's well beyond the current average U.S. life expectancy of 78. Another panelist, Nir Barzilai, is assembling a nationwide study on whether the FDA-approved drug metformin, long used to treat diabetes, can target the biology of aging itself, including diseases for which age is a major risk factor such as heart disease, dementia and cancer. The TAME Trial (Targeting Aging with Metformin), is a series of 6-year clinical trials involving more than 3,000 seniors at 14 research institutions around the country. "People are realizing that aging is something we can target, that we can modulate, and we can extend the (healthy life span)," said Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research and professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The third panelist, Kate Batz, managing partner at the investment firm Longevity Capital, said longevity-oriented businesses that show potential include companies using artificial intelligence in drug development, wearable technology that lets people monitor their own health and "age tech," involving use of technology to target problems of aging such as loneliness. The panel was moderated by Ken Stern of the Longevity Project.
RAINBOW COLLECTIVE ... The Avenidas Rainbow Collective, an organization of local LGBTQ seniors and their friends , is offering a host of events in August. They include a women's social group, a walking group, a song appreciation group, a cell phone photography workshop, a movie night, an older adult social group. A Rainbow Collective contingent is participating in the Silicon Valley Pride Parade in San Jose on Sunday, Aug. 28. For details, go to avenidas.org, or email [email protected]
OPTIONS AT THE END ... In 2021, 772 individuals received prescriptions under California's End of Life Options Act, and 486 people died following ingestion of the aid-in-dying drugs, the state Department of Public Health reported in July. Of the 486, 66% had malignant cancers. Neurological diseases, at 13%, accounted for the second-largest group. More than 88% of those who died were 60 or older, more than 98% had health insurance and more than 91% were receiving hospice or palliative care. More than 85% were white, 52% were male, and 87% had informed their family about their decision to take the aid-in-dying drugs. The 486 deaths last year compare to 495 in 2020 and 484 in 2019. In effect since June 2016, the End of Life Options Act requires that applicants be diagnosed with a terminal disease and make two verbal requests to their physicians at least 15 days apart.
Items for Senior Focus may be emailed to Palo Alto Weekly Contributing Writer Chris Kenrick at [email protected]