Dr. Robert N. Butler is the President and CEO of the International Longevity Center. Whether through his many appearances in front of the United States Congress, or his hundreds of interviews with the media, Dr. Butler has worked tirelessly for decades to push population-aging issues into the public discourse. As a gerontologist and psychiatrist, Dr. Butler recognized discrimination against the elderly as early as 1968, coining the term "ageism." Eight years later, the publication of his Pulitzer-prize-winning "Why Survive? Being Old in America" solidified his reputation as someone who foresaw the impact that aging would have on American society. A founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, as well as the nation's first department of geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. Butler often consults for television and radio. He is the author of some 300 scientific and medical articles. Source: The International Longevity Center
Question: Will we still be aging in 100 years?
Robert Butler: Yes, I think we will still be aging. I don't think there is going to be any magic pill that will suddenly stop aging. What I think will happen is that there will be a slowing in the process of aging and therefore a delay in the onset of diseases and with better medical research and better available treatments and particularly with what is called genomics or the introduction of gene efforts and regenerative medicine, which means the ability to replace cells, tissues, and organs, we may see people much stronger, healthier, and vigorous in their 120th year.
We will still have the effects if we continue to expose ourselves to the sun, we are going to have wrinkles. If we continue to smoke, we are certainly going to have wrinkles. There are things we can do to make ourselves appear more attractive as we grow older if we have the discipline to do it. Alcohol too is a huge problem and people don't realize how serious alcoholism is in America
Question: What does a healthy 120 year-old look like?
Robert Butler: Well, we only have one real example and that was an interesting French woman named Jeanne Calment and she had apparently a great sense of humor right up to the end of her life, which occurred at 122. So, she was quite remarkable. I don't know all the details, but there is one great story that at the end of one her birthday celebrations when she was like 120, and by that time of course journalists from all over Europe had come to see her and all of France, and at the end of one such occasion, the cake had been cut, everything was done, [Inaudible] with hesitancy in his voice said, Well, Madam Calment, I guess I will see you next year; She said in a nanosecond, I don't see why not. You look to be in pretty good health to me.
Recorded on: Mar 17 2008