by: Martin Bayne – Journalist, Buddhist monk, MIT graduate, and well-known advocate for the aging; cofounder & CEO of New York Long-Term Care Brokers, one of the nation’s largest LTC insurance brokers, Martin developed Parkinsons disease at the height of his career and has spent more than a decade energetically advocating from a wheelchair while personally experiencing life in LTC facilities. He knows whereof he speaks.
We call the bridge between birth and death “aging.”
In it’s ascendancy, we are “young” even though our 10 trillion youthful cells have already started losing DNA telomere base pairs each time they divide.
If we survive youth, our aging cells become senescent and start to die. We call this “growing old”.
We are the only species that attempts to manipulate this natural cycle. (Ever see a toothless lion in the wild?)
Because of our aversion to death, we prolong or “stretch out” this aging cycle, but the mind and body have no blueprint for these extra years, and without an instruction set, we simply create more hospice, skilled nursing, and assisted living beds.
What is the answer? In my lifetime, man has discovered DNA and mapped the human genome, rocketed to the moon and back, invented the transistor and created ambitious machines the size of small cities to explore sub-atomic particles. Yet, elder care remains stuck in the nineteenth century: we still throw the confused, demented and disabled in “facilities” hoping God will sort it out.
Solving the aging dilemma is like nailing Jello to a tree. In truth, despite what the country’s most astute geriatricians, erudite scholars, and faceless Internet experts will tell you, there is very little one can do for an 82 year old woman with Alzheimer’s, a frail, 97-year old man in protracted renal failure, or a 62-year-old journalist with 19 years of Parkinson’s under his belt.