You can't beat the clock. No matter who you are and what you do, you're going to get older. The hours keep ticking by. And if you're like us, that brings a couple questions to mind: "What is getting older going to be like?" And, "Is there anything that can be done to make it better?" National Geographic's new television series "Breakthrough" will explore those very questions (and more) in a segment titled "The Age of Aging" on Sunday, Nov. 29. (Put it on your fast-changing calendar.)
The segment is directed and narrated by Ron Howard (yes, that Ron Howard) and has a strong Mayo Clinic connection. It includes interviews with retired residents living in Rochester. And it will feature the latest research developments from the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. That includes work being done to "extend the healthy years of lifespan," a phrase researchers in the Center on Aging use to refer to "the period of life when individuals are independent and free" from the aches, pains and struggles of chronic health conditions.
"There are so many questions to be made around the question of aging," Howard says in a promotional trailer for the segment. "It's, on one hand, wonderful to imagine living long, feeling better, being productive well into the golden years. But also important in taking a look at our moment to recognize that it's a struggle."
Howard notes that a "wonderful couple that we focused on" articulated that struggle particularly well. That "wonderful couple" is Mayo Clinic Charter House residents Martha and Dr. Ed Kamin, who spent 14 hours over two days talking to film crews about their experiences with aging. "Their specific interest," Dr. Kamin tells us, "was in hearing more about the approach aging people like us take when assessing whether to go ahead with certain things related to our health."
And while Dr. Kamin says they entertained a lot of interesting questions, the most interesting ones came when they were asked whether they'd like to live to see their 200th birthday. "After thinking about it for a while," Dr. Kamin says, "our response was, 'Would we have to work for 175 years before we entered a 25-year retirement?' And, 'How would the traffic be?'"
You can catch more of what Dr. Kamin and Martha shared with the show's film crews when "The Age of Aging" airs on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, Nov. 29, at 9 p.m. EST. Until then, share your comments below and use the social media tools to share this story with others.