Physical resilience and aging: correcting the Tithonus error and the crème brulée error.

New Frontiers in Resilient Aging: Life-Strengths and Well-Being in Late Life (2010):90-103.

Physical resilience and aging: correcting the Tithonus error and the crème brulée error.

de Grey ADNJ.

Abstract

Abstract:

One of the most persistent misconceptions surrounding the prospect of combating aging – so persistent, in fact, that it has acquired a name, “the Tithonus error” – is that successful anti-aging interventions would postpone death but would not postpone the decline in health and vigor that characterizes later life. The psychological reasons for why so many people have for so long remained deaf to gerontologists’ incessant and vocal correction of this error are complex and have been addressed in my previous work. Here I discuss the physiological basis for the confidence, shared by all biologists of aging, that the only way we will ever substantially extend the human lifespan is by extending people’s healthy lifespan, rather than by keeping people alive in a frail state. I then discuss what these physiological realities tell us about which approaches to combating aging are the most promising, and why they are likely to lead to the substantial (and, eventually, dramatic) postponement of what is now humanity’s number one killer.