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: What is old age and why are we so afraid of it?
Robert Butler: Well, elderly I think is really a word that should be applied to people more or like 80-85 and above. Otherwise, I prefer older persons because most older people actually remain vigorous and healthy until they begin to reach their 80s.
Robert Butler: People are afraid of death very much, but also the accompaniments of aging, that [Inaudible] it be independent, being physically ill, being compromised, not be able to walk properly, not having your balance, all of those are fearful things including of course cancer and heart disease.
Robert Butler: Well, the brain is very critical. If we have our mind, if we have our ability to think, if we recognize our loved ones, that makes a huge difference in our lives.
Question: How can we slow the process?
Robert Butler: Well, we can't the stop clock yet. We may be able to slow it, but we can't stop it. This is something I developed in my book The Longevity Revolution that it is possible now to actually slow aging. So, what we can do now is largely, within our own making about 25% of what happens to us and the length of our life is related to genes. 70-75% is us. Don’t smoke. Moderate alcohol. You should probably eat off the salad plate instead of the dinner plate. Modest intake of food and certainly, exercise, not just aerobic exercise, but also working those muscles and that is about it. Having a purpose in life, having passion, something to get up for in the mornings, something that makes a difference. People actually live longer. Also, if you have a body relationship, sometimes moral support system or social network that also leaves to a longer, healthier life. Women in particular do better in that regard. We men may have the old boy network and help each other get jobs, but we are not as capable of intimacy and closeness, dealing with grief, and we don't do as well as in having a healthy community or body of people to help us.
Recorded on: Mar 17 2008
What is old age and why do we fear it?
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