The Science of Getting Old

Thanks to   this website has the aging items listed below shown as graphics - much easier to understand than words.

Nobody lives forever. In fact, if you're over 20 years old, it's likely you're already experiencing the effects of age on your body (they are probably slight if you're that young). Aging is an inevitable part of life, but do you know the science behind why hair becomes gray or skin wrinkles as we age?

Why Do We Age?

Eventually, the cells in our bodies become less equipped to repair and replicate themselves. This process of senescence is the basis of aging.

Scientists believe senescence is an irreversible step in the lives of cells, but what's not known is why this happens in the first place. One theory is that senescence of cells developed to prevent the uncontrollable growth of cells in old age; we know this as cancer.

Interestingly, some research suggests there may be ways to extend the lifespan of cells by using an enzyme in the body called telomerase. In the cell-division process, telomeres keep DNA and RNA from becoming damaged.

Eventually even the telomeres can no longer divide, meaning the cells become susceptible to age and death. But in some cells, including those in your immune system, telomerase restores the telomeres to their full size after cell division. These cells are said to be immortal, and they make up only a tiny portion of the cells in a human body.

For unknown reasons, the mortal cells in your body do not allow telomerase inside. Two separate research projects aim to use telomerase to rapidly expand human lifespans.

Curing cancer?

Four clinical trials are currently under way denying telomerase to areas of the body where cancer is growing. If successful, the cancer cells would not be able to multiply, and the existing cancer cells would die.

Endless youth?

Researchers have forced mortal cells to accept telomerase; the senescent cells saw their biological clocks reset and starting dividing again.

Why Hair Turns Gray

Melanin, the pigment that gives your hair its color, becomes exhausted at some point, which is different for each person. Genetics and stress both play huge roles.

Why Skin Wrinkles

Collagen is what gives youthful skin its luster and supple feeling. Starting when you turn 20, your body produces about 1 percent less collagen every year. The cumulative effect after a number of years is that the skin becomes thinner and more fragile, thus more susceptible to the ravages of gravity.

In 2007, 174,290 collagen injections were performed to fill wrinkles.

Why We Forget

Minor declines in memory and mental abilities most likely occur because the brain, like many parts of the body, changes as we age. Certain parts of the brain shrink, and the ability of neurons to communicate effectively with each other declines.

Why We Get Shorter

The disks between the bones in our spines become compressed over time. This causes the vertebrae to press closer together, meaning we lose height. Some elderly people also suffer from osteoporosis, a process in which insufficient bone material is created by cells in the body, and bones become smaller and weaker as a result.

55% of the opulation 50+ has osteoporosis or low bone mass.

Each hip fracture due to osteoporosis accounts for $40,000 in total medical costs.

Why We Can't See As Well

After age 40, most of us will have a hard time focusing on objects up close. You can thank the hardening of the surface of your eye's lens.

1 in 2 Americans 80 and older have cataracts that detract from their vision.

Five hearing tech announcements that could benefit older adultsPosted: 12 Sep 2016 07:20 AM PDTHearing technology advances -- the hearing aid industry considers changing. It’s a positive when you see disruption of industries that have too tight a lock on the consumer, whether it is in categories of health insurancetelecom carriers or hearing aids.  You spend time with people everywhere you go – those with significant hearing loss but no hearing aids; they have hearing aids, but hate to wear them.  According to a recent NY Times article, two-thirds of adults over 70, but only 15-30% of those wear them – and at $5000 a pair, no wonder. In recent years, personal sound amplification products(PSAPs) that are not classified as hearing aids and thus do not require the audiologist role, though the FDA may change that. Just asking, if the device is called a 'Wearable,' does Silicon Valley find it more worthy of funding?  But anyway. In July, Consumer Reports published an explanatory guide that should be required reading for organizations that serve older adults. It would seem to be the wild west of innovation.  Here is a sampling of five recent product announcements:ReSound. The firm "introduced a new model to the award-winning ReSound LiNX2™ family: the world's only mini behind-the-ear (BTE) model to feature Made for iPhone. In addition, the mini BTE also features telecoil capabilities. ReSound LiNX2 is the world’s first internet-connected hearing aid, connecting to the internet to locate misplaced hearing aids. This new model enhances the award-winning ReSound Smart Hearing portfolio, giving users even more choices to meet individual preferences and hearing loss needs." Learn more at Resound.Oticon. 

"Technological limitations of current hearing aids have led to the use of tunnel directionality: Speech coming from the front is clear, whereas the rest of the sound environment is suppressed. This results in a limited, narrowed and artificial listening experience. With new, groundbreaking technology, Oticon Opn™ is fast and precise enough to analyse and follow the soundscape and differentiate between sounds. Even in complex listening environments, this allows Oticon Opn™ to constantly open up and balance individual sounds to deliver a rich and meaningful soundscape, empowering the brain to choose on which sounds to focus." Learn more at Oticon.

Silicon Valley based startup that "offers an entry-level rechargeable hearing aid (FDA class I medical device) that it sells directly to consumers. Eargo is a near-invisible in-the-canal device offering four volume settings. Developed by a French ENT, it features patented silicone “flexi-fibers” that enable the device to sit comfortably deep in the ear canal while letting air and natural sound flow freely to the eardrum. At $1,980 per pair, the Eargo hearing aids are more expensive than many of the new off-the shelf “hearables” (classified as personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs, by the FDA), but less expensive than the higher end hearing aids fitted by audiologists." Learn more at

 "Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, announces today it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its newest innovative hearing loss solution, Kanso. The Kanso Sound Processor provides a distinct new way for cochlear implant users to hear. Unlike most hearing aids and current cochlear implant sound processors that are worn on the ear, Kanso is a small, off-the-ear hearing device  that provides a more discreet hearing solution and delivers the same hearing experience as a behind-the-ear sound processor." Learn more at Cochlear.

 "iHear® Medical announced today the launch of the world’s first online hearing solutions platform. The company begins taking orders today for its flagship invisible iHEARHD® hearing aid, and the iHearTest™, which recently received landmark FDA approval as the first and only home hearing screener. Delivery of iHear products starts July 15, 2016. The company also plans to launch the iHEARMAX™, a mini behind-the-ear hearing device, on August 15, 2016. iHear’s products are currently being offered in the U.S., with plans to introduce them in China and other markets in 2017." Learn more at iHearMedical.