How Can We Make Longer Lives Healthier Lives?

Monday, April 27, 2015 at the Milken Institute Global Conference titled Prescription for Wellness: Extending Our Health Span Dean Pinchas Cohen addresses the potential for the future of aging and the opportunities that are rising in the aging field for improving human healthspan. He speaks about the challenges that we are currently facing in aging because despite having significantly increased lifespan in the last century, healthspan, the quality of life, is a different story entirely. “Older Americans, a fair number of them, now live in a state of disability, chronic disease and in fact, women, who do live longer than men by about 5 years, spend more time with a disability than men.” Therefore, the challenge at this time is to increase healthspan or at the very least delay deterioration of the mind and body.

“Personalized medicine has completely revolutionized health care or what really we should call sick care,” Cohen said. “The challenge is to take that into premorbid care which is what I termed personalized aging, where taking the power of genomics and epigenomics can be turned into a motivational opportunity to prolong aging downfall.” He highlighted that we have begun to implement a Personalized Aging Initiative at USC using the “23andMe” platform that identifies several susceptible genetic markers that may influence who gets what. The higher risk markers will greatly alter an individual’s life and enable them to make a number of preventive lifestyle choices for chronic diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and even help reduce their chance of cancer. This will allow people to exit the “one-size-fits-all” model they are used to because it uses real, personal information making it relevant.

Dean Cohen addressed the question that most people pay attention to, how much is this going to cost me or the government? “The most expensive thing society deals with when it comes to aging is chronic care of dementia. Right now it costs ¼ of a trillion dollars a year and that doesn’t account for medications or any other chronic disease, that’s just care for dementia. If this continues we will soon be paying a trillion dollars a year just to change diapers when we could implement prevention and prolong deterioration for a fraction of the cost.” Publicity of this reality and the effectiveness of preventative medicine is part of the challenge in the future of aging and the health care system.

To hear more on the subject from Dean Cohen and the rest of panel click here watch the conference.