It has been decades since a breakthrough idea changed people’s health and well-being. The last big ideas included risk prevention and “the new old age.” Risk prevention based a person’s health on avoiding specific threats like smoking, poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and stress. The new old age was a change of mindset that opened the way for lifelong well-being and productive activity beyond the biblical threescore and ten.
But as useful as these breakthroughs were, they hit a dead end. Risk prevention suffers from noncompliance, the perverse habit we all indulge in of not doing what is good for us. In addition, risks are fearful, and fear is a poor motivator in the long run. The new old age ran into a different and even tougher obstacle. The aging process proceeds roughly at the rate of 1% a year after age 30, much too long a time to focus on old age, even though it has been well established that the afflictions of the elderly are chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and probably most cancers which begin to develop years or even decades before symptoms appear.