The Fashion Models Who Are Transcending Ageism

Image via Ashley Britton

Image via Ashley Britton

It seems that the merciless, late-20s expiration date of most models might be a thing of the past. Countless models, over the course of the last couple years, have proven that a model’s appeal, like a fine wine, might actually get better with age. Thanks to the below, older-than-average models, a model at his or her thinnest does not amount to a model being in his or her prime. Rather, these models’ markers of success is their undying sophistication and poise. Proving that age is nothing but a number, meet the models over the age of 45 who are dominating the industry. 

1. Lyn Slater, 63

Slater went from giving lectures about social justice in NYC to gaining international recognition for her photos and blog posts as the Accidental Icon. Shattering age and gender stereotypes, Slater allows her unique, personal style—androgynous, irreverent, and whimsical—shine through day-to-day. Keep in mind that, after only two years of running Accidental Icon, Slater has already partnered with UNIQLO. And if you quickly browse through her website, it’s easy to see why; the woman is teeming with words of wisdom that we’d definitely choose to live by.

2. Nicola Griffin, 56

We’re all about ladies and gents making moves and breaking boundaries especially in the beauty and fashion realms. Griffin is another such woman who has broken boundaries in the beauty and fashion industry, and has captured the attention of publications and fashion bigwigs as a result. Discovered while waiting in line at the bank, Griffin—who’s also a mother of two—landed a modeling gig at the age of 53 for White Hot Hair products. And then, three years later, she was featured in Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit Issue. That is all. 

3. Yazemeenah Rossi, 60

A quadruple threat, Yazemeenah Rossi not only has more Instagram followers than you, but she also a (swimsuit) model, a photographer, actress, and even a visual artist. Her svelte figure coupled with her cascading white hair is both visually appealing and reassuring for us young folk. Most recently, she starred in an exquisite, and notably airbrush-free swimsuit campaign for a collaboration between The Dreslyn and NYC lingerie brand Land of Women. 

4. Naomi Campbell, 46

It almost feels wrong to include Naomi Campbell on this list; the perennial supermodel not only still has “it,” but she’s practically more in demand than her much younger counterparts today. She began modeling at the age of 15 and has since become one of the most sought-after supermodels in the industry. Campbell has covered the pages of Harper’s BazaarVogueEssence, among myriad others—and that’s not even including the infinite number of ads she’s starred in and runways she’s graced. As if all of that weren’t already, enough, Campbell has also recently ventured into acting—and unsurprisingly, is killing it at that too.

5. Maye Musk, 68

Musk has been modeling since she was 15 (that’s over 50 years, mind you) By the time she turned 50, she moved to NYC and took on major campaigns for Revlon and Clinique. Musk celebrated her 60th birthday by abandoning the hair dye and chopping off her locks. And, as she wrote on her website, “the new look brought a major campaign for Virgin America, billboards in Times Square, covers of Elle Quebec, New York Magazine and Zoomer Magazine, even music videos and commercials.” Because…naturally. Speaking of music videos, she was even tapped by Queen Bey herself to appear in the 2013 music video for “Haunted.” (Again…naturally.) This is #goals, at its finest. 

6. Iman, 61

Hailing from Somalia, Iman is not only one of the world’s most iconic supermodels, but, launching Iman Cosmetics in 1994, she’s also been a pioneer for the beauty industry’s offerings for women of color. Iman was discovered while in college by photographer Peter Beard, and soon after was invited to the States by Wilhelmina Models. And the rest, as they say, is history. Iman’s modeling career is about as prodigious and illustrious as it gets—and though she technically retired from modeling in 1989, she invariably still pops up on the occasional magazine cover.

7. Daphne Selfe, 88

Daphne Selfe, who began modeling in 1949, has managed to not only land a Vogue spread after turning 70, but she’s also went on to pose for Dolce & Gabbana, Nivea, and Olay. Two years ago, Selfe was coined as the world’s oldest professional fashion model by The Guinness Book of World Records. She’s spent a lifetime in front of the camera, and apparently owes it all to good genes—no Botox—and “a bit of Boots [moisturizer].” Goddess.

- Gabrielle Nicole Pharms via Milk

The Truth Behind Marijuana And Older Adults

As of May 2016, twenty-four states have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana, and four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use(1).  In a recent Gallup poll, 58% of surveyed American adults indicated that marijuana use should be legal, more than double the percentage who did so (25%) in 1995 (2).  As acceptance of cannabis use is on the increase across the country, it is important to consider the implications for the fastest growing segment of the population, older adults(3).

How Many Older Adults Use Marijuana?

Research indicates that cannabis use by older adults is on the rise.  According to data from the annual National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), from 2002-2014 the proportion of adults aged 50 to 64 who reported cannabis use in the past year more than tripled from 2.9% to 9.0%.  Among adults aged 65 or older, the proportion increased more than tenfold from 0.2% to 2.1%.  As the baby boom generation has only recently begun to reach senior citizen status and as medical and recreational marijuana use is increasingly decriminalized across the country, the proportion of older adults using cannabis could continue to grow and approach rates currently observed in younger age groups, which as of the NSDUH of 2014, were 11.6% of those aged 35 to 49, 20.0% of those aged 26-34, and 31.9% of those aged 18-25.

What Are Some Concerns About Older Adults and Cannabis Use?

Along with aging come physical changes, including hearing impairment, vision changes, slowed reaction time, susceptibility to falls, and cognitive decline.  Aging also entails the development of age-related health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and cancer.  Two out of three older Americans have multiple chronic health conditions, which generally require multiple prescription medications, increasing the risk of adverse drug effects, which can further endanger their health(4).   As cannabis is increasingly seen as benign and a safe adjunct or alternative treatment for age-related health problems, a rising number of older adults may be expected to turn to marijuana for medical in addition to recreational purposes.

Concerns about Health Harms

Cannabis consumption has a number of acute physiological effects that may be more hazardous or concerning for older adults. 

  • Smoking marijuana results in a substantially greater respiratory burden of carbon monoxide and tar than smoking a similar quantity of tobacco(5).   Habitual marijuana smoking has been linked to airway injury and chronic bronchitis(6).
  • Cannabis consumption causes an increase in heart rate, lesser increases in cardiac output and supine blood pressure, and frequent occurrence of postural hypotension.  While little is known about the effect of cannabis use on cardiovascular disease outcomes, it is believed that cannabis use can result in inadequate blood flow to the heart (i.e., ischemia) in susceptible individuals(7).

Concerns about Drug Interactions

According to the Mayo Clinic, cannabis may interact, sometimes dangerously so, with several medications that are commonly prescribed to older adults(8).   Cannabis affects the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system (CYP450), which determines how certain drugs, herbs, and supplements are metabolized.   Those who take medications, herbs, or supplements that are metabolized by CYP450 could have increased blood levels of their active ingredients, which could cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions.   Some specific concerns are listed below.

  • Cannabis may further increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, including aspirin, anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin®), antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®), and herbs or supplements such as ginkgo biloba.
  • Because cannabis use may affect blood sugar levels, medication adjustments may be necessary for those taking oral or injectable drugs for diabetes, such as metformin or insulin, or herbs and supplements that also affect blood sugar.
  • Because cannabis use may affect blood pressure, caution is warranted among those who take blood pressure medications or herbs or supplements that affect blood pressure.
  • Cannabis may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol, which could increase the risk of fall and injuries among older adults.

Concerns about Memory Problems

Age-associated cognitive decline is common in older adults.  Research suggests that more than 10% of older adults aged 60-64 show some age-associated cognitive decline, and the proportion of individuals with cognitive decline increases with age(9).  This is important to consider because cannabis often has cognitive effects, and it is largely unknown how cannabis-related cognitive effects interact with age-related cognitive decline.  Studies on the cognitive effects of cannabis, conducted with younger adults, indicate that the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), impairs attention, executive cognitive function, and short-term memory(10, 11).  Such effects could be magnified among older adults who consume cannabis and become problematic, for example, if they interfere with optimal adherence to medication regimens, increase the risk of accidents in the home, or affect decision-making around driving under the influence of cannabis, which could be more hazardous among older adults with subtle or obvious cognitive decline.  Research has found, in young adults, residual cognitive effects of cannabis persist for 12 to 24 hours after smoking.  Residual effects have not been studied in older adults, but it might be expected that residual effects would even last longer in those with age-related cognitive decline.

Concerns about Cannabis Misuse

Generally speaking, older adults are less likely to exhibit substance use disorders than younger adults(12).  However, as cannabis use becomes more widespread among older adults, cannabis misuse, abuse, or dependence would also be expected to rise.  One study indicated that the number of adults aged 50 or older with substance use disorder is projected to double from an average of 2.8 million per year 2002–2006 to 5.7 million in the year 2020(13).  Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that rates of cannabis abuse and dependence increased modestly but significantly among those aged 45 to 64 from 1991-1992 to 2001-2002 (14) and again from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013(15).

While there is no research to suggest whether older adults are any more or less susceptible to the development of substance use disorders than younger adults, aging is associated with a number of psychosocial problems that serve as risk factors for substance misuse, including bereavement, social isolation, loneliness, lack of social support, depression, and anxiety.  Although most older adults have regular contact with health professionals for a variety of reasons, relatively few with substance use problems seek professional help(16).   This may be particularly true for cannabis, given the widespread belief that cannabis is not addictive(17).  While treatments designed specifically for older adults are few and have rarely been tested, response to treatment for substance use disorders appears to be at least as good among older adults as among younger adults(18). 

- via University of Washington

What We Can Learn From Japan's Population Over Age 80, And How We Can Be Happy Like Them

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Click to play video.

(Click image to play video)

For many older people in Japan work isn’t just a way to keep busy but also a source of happiness and wellbeing. From a 71-year-old barber to a 100-year-old café owner, Monocle visits Japan’s elderly who are showing little sign of letting up.

Video via Monocle

The Complete Guide To Exercising In Winter

Photo by Michaela Rehle

Photo by Michaela Rehle

Exercise can be hard in the northern hemisphere in winter, and perhaps especially so in cities bereft of the birdsong or starry skies that make the countryside joyous in any season. But identifying what stops us, planning well, and creating the right conditions can make winter work-outs some of the most rewarding of the year.

Good news: Research from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands suggests that once you’ve acclimatized, exercising in the cold burns fat quicker than more comfortable temperatures, because deposits of so-called “brown fat” are activated as the body learns to get warmer, faster. So winter might even be better for weight management than those jogs in more pleasant weather.

Secondly, exercise is a great way to beat winter blues. Studies link increased exercise to better moods for people with depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you’re able exercise outside during daylight hours (think running at lunchtime), you’ll get more of that elusive vitamin D from sunlight which is good for bones, teeth, and muscles.

For many, the rush of endorphins we get from exercise is reason enough to prove it’s good for us. But how do you translate that knowledge into action?

Prepare well

Planning and writing down exercise sessions ahead of time makes it more likely you’ll do them, and if you’re exercising before work, smooth the transition out of bed as much as possible. Lay out exercise clothes and shoes the night before, pack your work bag, and plan both your outfit for the day, and your post work-out breakfast.

For outdoor winter exercise, the right clothing will make a huge difference to your experience. Jackie Newton, an endurance coach, suggests layering up for warmth, with exercise-specific fabrics that dry quicker than cotton. Plan on:

  • A lightweight top made of technical fabric
  • Lightweight fleece for dry weather
  • Breathable, light waterproof for rain
  • Leggings, running tights, tracksuit trousers or shorts
  • A beanie hat
  • Gloves

Most experts suggest that if it’s really icy out, reschedule outdoor exercise—injuries take a long time to heal and it’s not worth the risk. Some cyclists prefer mountain-biking in winter, and trail-running is less ice-prone than street running, if those are options. If you need music or a podcast, turn the volume low and just listen with one ear-bud, staying aware of what’s going on around you.

“It’s so much easier to have a training partner,” she said. “If [people] have someone else who they’ve made a promise to…then they find it easier to get their ass out of bed. And also it’s nicer because you can chat to each other, or you can push each other in the moment.” If you can’t cajole a buddy into ensemble exercise, joining a running club, bootcamp, or group swim session could keep you on track.

Setting a goal is another great way to stay motivated; just make sure its achievable. Sign up for an organized run in three months time, and then follow a training program to get you there (like this one for five kilometers, complete with podcasts.) You don’t have to work out every day: Thirty minutes of cardio exercise three times a week is much better than nothing.

Winter can also be a time for indoor activities you might not get around to otherwise. Dance, squash, hot or regular yoga, circuit training, and swimming, are all great ways to spend an hour in a long evening that might otherwise be spent eating, drinking, and looking at screens.

Finally, winter is a beautiful time to do one of the most-overlooked forms of exercise: walking. Try this on a weekend: Get up early and take a train out of the city. Plan a walk that lasts from 11 until 3, ending at a pub or café, so you can eat and get warm before jumping on a train home.

There’s a debate about the rewards-after-exercise question. Some suggest a small food reward is a good motivation. On the other side, those who think connecting exercise with snacks is a mistake.

The ideal is probably to try and frame exercise as a pleasure, not a punishment—think of it as personal time, or a time to think, or listen to podcasts.

Likewise, food ideally shouldn’t be a reward. Whatever you eat, make sure it’s delicious and that you take time over it, which will make it feel more satisfying. If you’re working out, you need to eat some energy-rich carbohydrates—like whole grains and potatoes with the skins on—and some protein, which helps build and repair muscle: oily fish, eggs, and beans all count. Add vegetables and salads, too.

If it helps motivate you to exercise and form a habit, small food rewards—like a square or two of chocolate—can work. But research also shows that people who exercise can undo a lot of the work making themselves healthier because they feel entitled to eat more. Here are some non-food-based rewards, especially for winter:

  • Join a pool or gym with a sauna, and end your workout with a welcome blast of heat,
  • Soak after a run in a warm bath,
  • Book yourself a massage at the end of a month of wintery work-outs,
  • Think about what you’d find most relaxing (sleep, TV, reading recipe books) and let yourself do it for a chunk of time once you’ve exercised,
  • Take rest days: They’re important for allowing muscles to recover, and they feel all the sweeter when you’ve been out in the cold on the other days of the week.

- Cassie Werber via Quartz

Scientists to 'reset' blood proteins in attempt to slow ageing process

Photo via Ikon Images

Photo via Ikon Images

In what could be a fresh chapter in the never-ending story of the search for eternal youth, scientists are to tinker with people’s blood in the hope of slowing down the ageing process and preventing age-related diseases.

Researchers in California plan to launch a clinical trial of the radical – and highly experimental – approach in the next six months, after a small study in mice found the treatment had promise. 

People who take part in the trial will have their blood passed through a machine that resets abnormal levels of proteins seen in older blood. The scientists believe these high levels of certain proteins can hamper the growth and maintenance of healthy body tissues, and so contribute to their deterioration in old age.

Plans for the trial emerged as scientists announced the results of the animal study, which was part-funded by Calico, Google’s life extension company. The study showed that infusions of old blood reduced the growth of fresh liver and brain cells in young mice and impaired their performance in a strength test.

The same series of experiments found evidence that infusions of young blood could speed up muscle repair in older animals. But Irina Conboy, who led the work at the University of California, Berkeley, said the improvement could be due the dilution of old blood in the animals, rather than the young blood having rejuvenating properties itself.

The work is the latest in a string of studies to show that molecules in blood may shift the apparent pace of ageing in various bodily tissues. But while much of the previous work has focused on the rejuvenating effects of proteins lurking in young blood, the Berkeley team conclude that abnormal levels of proteins in old blood are more important.

“These proteins are made by all the tissues in your body every day,” Conboy told the Guardian. “When they are present at low levels, they are important, and you cannot live without them. But with ageing their levels become skewed. Some of them go up, and some go down. So the rational approach is not to give people young blood, but to normalise the levels of these key molecules.”

The Berkeley team is now working on a device that can filter out high levels of proteins from old human blood and so reset them to more youthful levels. “If you can remove key inhibitor molecules from the blood of an old person and then return that blood into them, that could be immediately therapeutic,” Conboy said.

“We are developing ideas for clinical trials to see what happens if you normalise levels of one key protein we think is inhibitory,” she added. “We hope to start in six months and have results in three years.

“Right now our health declines after about seven decades. We are pretty much hoping to extend the productive plateau, where you’re not necessarily the world champion in swimming or running marathons, but you can continue for a few more decades without any critical illnesses.”

- Ian Sample via The Guardian

How Age Affects Your Definition Of Happiness

Photo via Los Angeles Times

Photo via Los Angeles Times

Chade-Meng Tan, a former engineer, joined Google in 2000 as employee number 107. Though he played an instrumental role in building Google’s mobile search function, among other technological feats, he’s better known for the mindfulness classes he later led for employees. The role earned him the job title of Jolly Good Fellow (Which Nobody Can Deny), which he parlayed into a mindfulness institute geared toward corporate types.

In his latest book, Joy on Demand, the Google veteran describes his path from someone who was “constantly miserable” to a much happier guy. How did he get there? Sometime in his mid-20s, he discovered that he wasn’t stuck with self-loathing; temperament, he found, is malleable.

Successfully reshaping your mindset, he argues, has less to do with hours of therapy and more to do with mental exercises, including one that helps you recognize “thin slices of joy.”

“Right now, I’m a little thirsty, so I will drink a bit of water. And when I do that, I experience a thin slice of joy both in space and time,” he told CBC News. “It’s not like ‘Yay!”” he notes in Joy on Demand. “It’s like, ‘Oh, it’s kind of nice.’”

Usually these events are unremarkable: a bite of food, the sensation of stepping from a hot room to an air-conditioned room, the moment of connection in receiving a text from an old friend. Although they last two or three seconds, the moments add up, and the more you notice joy, the more you will experience joy, Tan argues. “Thin slices of joy occur in life everywhere… and once you start noticing it, something happens, you find it’s always there. Joy becomes something you can count on.” That’s because you’re familiarizing the mind with joy, he explains.

Tan bases this idea on neurological research about how we form habits. Habitual behaviors are controlled by the basal ganglia region of the brain, which also plays a role in the the development of memories and emotions. The better we become at something, the easier it becomes to repeat that behavior without much cognitive effort.

Tan’s “thin slice” exercise contains a trigger, a routine, and a reward—the three parts necessary to build a habit. The trigger, he says, is the pleasant moment, the routine is the noticing of it, and the reward is the feeling of joy itself.

The exercise sets the brain up well to slip easily into more formal meditation practices. “Noticing sounds trivial, but it is an important meditative practice in its own right,” writes Tan, adding that “noticing is the prerequisite of seeing. What we do not notice, we cannot see.”

Other scientific evidence aligns with Tan’s theory. A small study by psychologists from Loyola University published last month in the journal Agingfor instance, showed that among adults over age 55, those who reported a better ability to savor life were more likely to report higher life satisfaction, regardless of ill health. For those less able to relish small events, poor health made all of life seem drearier.

People seem to get better at savoring the moment as they age. A small 2014 study by marketing professors at Dartmouth College, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that older people are more likely to define who they are by naming everyday positive moments. Those in their teens and twenties cited extraordinary moments, such as graduation or a first car, as defining. “Ordinary moments that make up everyday life tend to be overlooked when the future seems boundless,” the authors wrote. “However, these ordinary experiences increasingly contribute to happiness as people come to realize their days are numbered.”

- Lila MacLellan via Quartz

Why You're Not Aging Like Celebrities

Photo by Mario Sorrenti

Photo by Mario Sorrenti

I’m holding up pretty well. I’ve earned plenty of Amex points from my skincare habits, which include the occasional micro-current facial, intense pulsed-light treatment, and prescription cream. People regularly look surprised when I reveal my age—though they could just be in shock that I divulge it so freely. But I’d be lying if I didn’t cop to wondering (sometimes aloud, in front of the mirror), Why am I not aging like J. Lo, or Gwyneth, or Sandra, or…(insert the name of your favorite celeb here)?

“I have this conversation 10 times a day with patients,” the Manhattan dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman declares. “They’ll say, ‘I work out. I’m vegan. I don’t drink alcohol. I drink lots of water. Why do these actresses still look so much better than I do?’ And I can tell you, because I treat a lot of them: Anyone who looks like that and says she hasn’t done any kind of enhancement isn’t telling the truth.”

That’s not really news, but in the last decade, the “enhancement” game has changed. A 40-something actress might not be going under the knife for a major overhaul, but chances are she is doling out for frequent minor tune-ups, which can be even more effective at stopping the clock. So when Lopez took to Twitter last year to denounce claims that she’s “had plastic surgery of any kind,” she might well have been telling the truth. The fact is, with the nonsurgical treatments available now, she hasn’t had to.

Still, that’s not to say that the quest to remain 33 forever is a walk in the park; it’s more like a marathon. To “mature” like a celebrity—say the dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons who treat them—requires a degree of commitment, in terms of both money and time, that mere mortals might find unreasonable, if not insane. “One patient who is an on-air personality spends $6,000 every two weeks,” Engelman confides, adding that it’s not unusual for patients to cough up $25,000 to $50,000 annually, not on a full swanlike transformation, but just to look like the best version of themselves.

For some perspective on how our perception of aging has changed, consider the following: Sandra Bullock, 50, has never looked better. Conversely, Ann B. Davis, the recently deceased actress who played Alice, the matronly housekeeper, on The Brady Bunch, was just 42 when she was cast on the show. Jean Stapleton was roughly the same age as Julia Roberts is now (47) during the first season of All in the Family, and Sally Field was 42 when she played Roberts’s mother in Steel Magnolias.

Part of this shift is due to the fact that our culture is allowing women to be sexy and youthful into their 40s, 50s, and 60s without judgment. But, according to Harold Lancer, the Beverly Hills dermatologist who treats Beyoncé and Scarlett Johansson, the seismic change in how women in the spotlight age has less to do with society than it does skincare: Actresses in their 40s today were part of the first generation to commit to sunscreen and Retin-A in their 20s. Apparently, if you want to look good when you are 44, you need to start working at it when you are 24—or younger.

Dakota Fanning was 9 when she first walked into my office,” Lancer says. “I make sure my patients of any age understand the value of exercise, avoiding carbohydrates, salt, and dairy. Then I start them on a skincare routine. After two weeks, we reevaluate, and they’ll have microdermabrasion. At six weeks, we’ll try ultrasound or radiofrequency to lift the neck, cheekbones, and brows. Needles are considered at about three months in. My clients aren’t just in it for a quick fix. They understand that they’re starting a cycle of chronic and expensive maintenance. There’s no such thing as planting agarden that doesn’t need weeding.”

Among the more effective weed killers available is Botox, the neurotoxin that some derms are now injecting well before deep wrinkles show up. “I use it in the whole face, and do it lightly, so you retain expressions but don’t have lines at rest,” says Santa Monica dermatologist Karyn Grossman. “If the lines are still deeper than what patients want, I’ll inject a bit of the fine-line filler Belotero Balance.” As for undereye filler, she says, “actors don’t wait until the hollows are bad to fix them. Normally, their director of photography will say something about it sooner rather than later.”

njectables are still the dermatologic indulgence that everyone likes to deny. Over-filled lips, a puffed-out “monkey mouth,” and inflated cheekbones are so stigmatized that we only see them on Bravo. But the truth is that A-listers are still filling up, and doing so frequently. It’s just harder to discern because fillers such as Belotero, which many celebrity dermatologists seem to favor, can be administered in microdroplets with a tiny needle, resulting in a more natural look. Perhaps that’s why they’re being used to restore volume in areas that were rarely considered before, like around the temples. Grossman even injects earlobes that have been overstretched by years of heavy Harry Winstons. “And I’ll inject filler into the hands and forearms of patients who are very thin, because that can make a person look much older,” she adds.

Some of the most dramatic advancements in skincare, however, have been in the realm of tightening and firming. Ultrasound treatments (like Ultherapy), radiofrequency therapy (like Thermage), and gentler lasers (like Clear & Brilliant) are making it possible to restore texture and tone quickly and with minimal recovery time. Lancer says that the most “social downtime” any of his Hollywood patients can tolerate is about three days, so they opt for less-ablative lasers with shorter gaps between sessions. Radiofrequency, meanwhile, requires little to no time away from the spotlight, making it an attractive choice for red carpet regulars. “Gwyneth is very open about how much she loves Thermage,” Grossman says. “It keeps the skin thick, and I like to keep my patients’ skin thick as long as possible.”

When stars aren’t at the dermatologist’s, chances are they’re getting facials—very high-tech facials. Microcurrent machines that temporarily stimulate muscle tone are now as common as steamers among top aestheticians, as are light-emitting diode (LED) treatments, which speed regeneration and impart a multi-day glow in just 20 minutes. “I use LED lights, ultrasound, microdermabrasion, and oxygen,” says the Los Angeles facialist Cristina Radu, who treats Cindy Crawford, among others. “I tell new clients that if we do a ‘boot camp’ of four facials in a row, three weeks apart, we’ll see big changes.”

New York microcurrent pioneer Joanna Vargas’s Triple Crown facials cost $400 a pop, and her regulars come in weekly. The lifted look that results lasts several days, and the idea is to “wake up” the muscles continually so they tighten—like Pilates for the face. “I do my best work when I can treat people over a period of time,” says Vargas, who boasts Rachel Weisz, Julianne Moore, and Naomi Watts as devotees.

It’s an intensive regimen by any definition: If you start weekly LED treatments, biweekly facials, and quarterly Botox in your early 30s and then build up to biannual Thermage or Ultherapy, biannual filler, and the occasional laser treatment, you have a chance of looking like J. Lo at 45. And the results will be so gradual that nobody will raise an eyebrow—important now that an alleged eyelift is considered headline news by CNN (our condolences, Renée). But, perhaps in the name of sisterhood, some stars are starting to admit that looking like a million bucks costs about that much too.

Sofia Vergara, 42, has been comically open about the time she clocks at Engelman’s and Lancer’s offices. Gwyneth Paltrow’s candidness about going in for “little things, like lasers” is a breath of fresh air. And just when you thought Robin Wright couldn’t be more likable, she admitted in an interview last year to a twice-annual “sprinkle of Botox,” adding, “Everybody f***ing does it.”

- Christine Lennon via W Magazine

Barbara Beskind, 90 Year-Old Tech Designer Is Making Products For Older Adults

Photo by Nicholas Zurcher

Photo by Nicholas Zurcher

In Silicon Valley's youth-obsessed culture, 40-year-olds get plastic surgery to fit in. But IDEO, the firm that famously developed the first mouse for Apple, has a 90-year-old designer on staff.

Barbara Beskind says her age is an advantage.

"Everybody who ages is going to be their own problem-solver," she says. And designers are problem-solvers. Beskind speaks while sitting on a couch at the open office space of IDEO in San Francisco. She commutes to the office once a week from a community for older adults where falling is a problem.

"People where I live fall a lot," she says, adding, "For a friend of mine, I tried to design air bags of graded sizes that would be activated at a lurch of 15 degrees." She is stumped on how to find the right power source for her air bags.

Beskind says she started designing when she was 8 years old — toys, of course.

"Well, in the Depression, if you can't buy toys, you make 'em, " she says. Beskind's first design was for a hobbyhorse. "I was determined I was going to have one, and so I made it with old tires. I learned a lot about gravity, 'cause I fell off so many times."

When it was time for college, Beskind told her counselor she wanted to be an inventor. That required an engineering degree. In those days, women couldn't get into those departments. So she studied home economics and later enlisted in the Army and became an occupational therapist.

After 44 years, she retired as a major and then went into private practice. From those years, she has six patents on inflatable devices that help children with balance issues.

Beskind tried to retire again. Two years ago she was watching 60 Minutes and saw David Kelley, the founder of IDEO, talking about how important it was to have a diverse staff on a design team. He emphasized how important it was to bring different perspectives to a project.

Beskind says the interview made her think she wanted to work at IDEO. "Oh, that sounds like that's for me," she remembers thinking. "And besides that, I was living in Silicon Valley. What could be better?"

Beskind wrote to the firm and she heard back within days. It turns out that interest in designing products for older adults is growing as baby boomers age.

Gretchen Addi, an associate partner at IDEO, hired Beskind. Addi says when Beskind is in a room, young designers do think differently. For example, Addi says IDEO is working with a Japanese company on glasses to replace bifocals. With a simple hand gesture, the glasses will turn from the farsighted prescription to the nearsighted one.

Initially, the designers wanted to put small changeable batteries in the new glasses. Beskind pointed out to them that old fingers are not that nimble.

"It really caused the design team to reflect," Addi says. They realized they could design the glasses in a way that avoided the battery problem. "Maybe it's just a USB connection. Are there ways that we can think about this differently?"

Like many IDEO employees, Jason Dehler thinks Beskind's energy is contagious. "I'm sitting here doing a not very inspiring task," Dehler says. "I'm doing budgets. And listening to you talk and your attitude ... I got more into it."

Beskind has macular degeneration and only has peripheral vision. So she draws her designs with easy-to-see thick black felt pens. She hands me a design for glasses that would help people like her. One of the features is that they take a photo as people walk up and introduce themselves. The glasses also have a small speaker. "So that the next time as you approach within 10 or 12 feet, something in my ear would say it's Laura," she says.

Beskind says as she gets older and faces new problems in the world, she's thankful she's a designer. "It makes aging more tolerable, more enjoyable," she says. "I enjoy the age I'm in. I think it's one of the best chapters of my life."

And for the bulging demographic of baby boomers growing old, Beskind has this advice: Embrace change and design for it.

- Laura Sydell via NPR

This Interactive Map Shows What Happens To Your Body When You Don't Exercise

Physical inactivity has consistently been shown to be one of the most powerful, modifiable risk factors for all causes of death and disease, alongside smoking and obesity.

This interactive body map brings together scientific evidence on the links between lack of physical activity and disease.

- Carol Maher, Tim Olds via The Conversation

Tony Bennett, 90, Is Not Slowing Down

Photo by Amy Lombard

Photo by Amy Lombard

For years, he has lived with his third wife in a Trump building on Central Park South, but the couple spent the night in a Madison Avenue hotel to avoid the security gridlock surrounding the staging areas of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which, like Mr. Bennett, turned 90 this year.

This day, roughly 70 years into a career that began as a singing waiter in Astoria, Queens, Mr. Bennett would be riding on the penultimate parade float — taking second billing only to Santa and his sleigh — and singing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” with Miss Piggy. While his live performance with a Muppet would not be a career highlight, a stumble as the float lurched back into motion and a steadying hug from the famous pig would go viral, and punctuate a year when it already seemed like All Tony, All the Time.

Mr. Bennett began 2016 by winning his 19th Grammy. The Empire State Building was lit in his honor, the switch thrown by his seemingly unlikely buddy and recording partner Lady Gaga. HarperCollins released a new book of his reminiscences of important people in his life. And on Tuesday, Dec. 20, NBC will broadcast a two-hour prime-time special commemorating his birthday.

“I can’t believe that all this is happening,” Mr. Bennett said. “I’m 90.”

Since NBC broadcast the last Bob Hope special in 1996, when the comedian was 93, prime-time network television has hardly been welcoming country for old men. Doug Vaughan, the executive vice president for special programs and late night at NBC, said, “Not that every 90-year-old doesn’t deserve marking that milestone, but Tony is such an icon and such a beloved American legend” that giving him a big block of prime time wasn’t a difficult decision. (It didn’t hurt that his last NBC special, for his 80th birthday, won seven Emmy Awards.)

“Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come” is built around a September concert at Radio City Music Hall that featured singers such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Bublé, Leslie Odom Jr. and Lady Gaga saluting him. Taped performances came in from Billie Joel, Elton John and Bob Dylan. There are interview segments with Mr. Bennett scattered in, and a show-within-a-show comedy sketch starring Alec Baldwin, who reprises his “Saturday Night Live” impersonation of a blithely clueless and hyper-ebullient Tony Bennett.

Mr. Baldwin said that the key to capturing Mr. Bennett, beyond the caricature, was portraying “a guy for whom there are no bumps in the road.”

“The thing about this guy,” Mr. Baldwin said, “is that he’s so positive — if I were as talented as him, I’d be positive, too — and so old-school, meaning the lesson you get under everything Tony does is that performing should be fun. ”

Indeed, it seems quite fun to be Tony Bennett. In public, Mr. Bennett’s vocabulary is dominated by three exclamations: Great, Wow and Fantastic, the last of which he proclaims with a strong punch to the second syllable. And those words seem fitting, given his thrill ride of a career.

In his ninth decade alone, Mr. Bennett has sold 10 million recordings, including two best-selling albums of duets with myriad other singers. Two years ago, he became the oldest performer to have a No. 1 album, when he paired with Lady Gaga on the standards-only recording “Cheek to Cheek.” He has pulled off the neat trick of constant career rejuvenation while staying exactly the same.

“I could have retired 16 years ago,” Mr. Bennett said one night last month, “but I just love what I’m doing.”

“We’re sold out everywhere I’m playing,” Mr. Bennett said. “The audiences are going crazy for the show. They know that I’m 90, and I come out and I’m in top shape. After the third or fourth song, they start flippin’ out. I’m getting five or six standing ovations a night. When they start acting like that, I just go home very pleased.”

But while there are signs of age, Mr. Bennett also displays a voracious curiosity. “I still insist that I can get better as I go along,” he said. He recently started learning the basics of jazz piano with Bill Charlap, his accompanist on the record “The Silver Lining,” a collection of Jerome Kern songs that won him his latest Grammy. His got his first in 1962.

“It’s the same way with painting,” he said. “I paint every day. And just by doing it every day, you get better.”

Even after the blitz of performances and products tied to his extended birthday celebration, Mr. Bennett plans to keep working. He has 30 dates on his schedule for the first half of 2017 and is thinking of recording a new album dedicated to the songs of the husband-and-wife songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman. “I might do it with Gaga,” Mr. Bennett said, “or maybe just with Bill Charlap.”

“Tony’s all about moving forward,” his son Danny said. “He tells me, ‘Hey, as long as my voice doesn’t wobble and people like me, I’m going to keep singing until I die.’”

On the morning he awoke in the hotel room on Madison Avenue, Mr. Bennett bundled up for the Macy’s parade on what was predicted to be a raw and blustery day, putting on a heavy gray wool suit and a blue overcoat. He’d shopped with his wife for ear muffs, and she’d stuffed hand warmers into his coat pockets.

Waiting in an S.U.V. to board the float, Mr. Bennett seemed tired and was mostly quiet. What little he talked about was either far in the past — anecdotes about Cary Grant, Dean Martin and Charlie Chaplin — or completely in the moment, as when he lowered the tinted side window to scan Central Park. “The trees are beautiful,” he said.

Then a woman bustled up to his side of the S.U.V. and presented Mr. Bennett a paper plate piled with cannoli. “They’re homemade just for you,” she told him. “You’re even more handsome in person.”

“Wow,” Mr. Bennett said, “let me see that.” He bit into a vanilla cannoli.

“Oh my God,” the woman shouted, “wait till I tell everybody that Tony Bennett ate my cannoli!”

- John Marchese via The New York Times

White-Collar Workers Can’t Postpone Retirement Forever

Photo via The Spectator

Photo via The Spectator

One way to prepare for retirement is to save. Another way: Don’t retire.

It’s surprisingly common to put very little aside and hope you never need to hang up your cleats for good. Among investors under age 35, more than four-fifths (83 percent) say they plan to work during retirement, according to a survey released this month by Merrill Edge. It’s not just millennials: 79 percent of Generation X and 64 percent of baby boomers who are still working agree.

And how many retirees surveyed actually have some sort of job? That would be 17 percent.

From a financial perspective, working into your 70s or 80s can be a great idea. It’s also completely unrealistic for many workers, especially if they want to stick to their chosen profession. It’s not just blue-collar workers with physically demanding jobs who can’t work forever. Even office workers need to prepare for the possibility that their careers will have a natural shelf life.

“As white-collar workers, we tend to believe we’re immune to the factors that cause blue-collar workers to retire early,” Boston College economist Geoffrey Sanzenbacher said at a recent conference. 1  His research, done with colleagues at Boston College's Center for Retirement Research, shows how “age-related decline” hits even well-educated professionals.

As we get older, not all our skills decline at the same rate. And in some ways, we get better. Older workers tend to be more knowledgeable than younger workers, research has found. Though it can take longer for older people to learn new skills or process new information, they are often much better at tasks they’ve practiced extensively. Physical ability varies, too. An older worker who can’t balance on a roof or deliver a dishwasher might have no trouble holding on to a broom.

Why are some white-collar jobs more susceptible than others? The answer lies largely in the extent to which they require different types of intelligence.

“Fluid intelligence,” your ability to process new information and situations, tends to decline with age. Meanwhile, “crystallized intelligence,” your knowledge of facts and how to perform particular tasks, generally increases through your 50s and 60s, researchers have found, with little decline after that. That’s one reason designers and stock traders rank higher, or are more susceptible to decline, than, say, teachers and academics.

Not all the news about aging is bleak. While the health of one segment of the U.S. population has recently gotten worse, Americans on the whole are living longer, healthier lives than ever. A record number are working past age 65, and the share of seniors with dementia has plunged, from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012. 

- Ben Steverman via Bloomberg


How Literature's Greatest Writers Saw Aging

Photo by Hulton Deutsch

Photo by Hulton Deutsch

The onset of middle age, and beyond, often prompts the second-guessing of old decisions. Some feel guilty about relationships pursued (or not pursued), while others wish they had followed an early passion or artistic impulse. In three separate letters, Beckett discusses his remorse about not going to work for the Guinness beer company in Dublin just as his middle-class father had repeatedly suggested. It’s a detail that many unfulfilled workers should ponder: A life as a successful musician, or All-Pro quarterback, or even as a Nobel Prize-winning writer for that matter, does not exempt one from the pangs of occupational regret. You can be brilliant; you can write Waiting for Godot, you can have an apartment in Paris and a house in the French countryside, and still wonder if you’d be happier being a 9-to-5 drone in a Dublin office cubicle.

And if aging feels like an unwanted visitor, it is a visitor who offers seemingly endless opportunities to wistfully compare and contrast the present with the alien landscape of one’s youth: It is the pull of nostalgia, loss, and fascination with time’s passing that creeps in. 

Aging is undoubtedly an intensely personal experience that gives everyone an opportunity to resist and accept its challenges in equal measures. No one can predict how they will feel upon turning the age that is like, in Lowell’s words, “the ceiling of one’s end.” Yet one can hope to possess, for example, the sound, sensible approach of Bishop, who wrote at the age of 56, “I minded being 35 very much, I remember, but haven’t been able to give a damn since—there are too many other things that one can do a little something about, possibly.” Then of course there is the Beckettian approach, which assumes you’ve been fortunate enough to have lived as long as he, and to have cultivated a certain gentlemanly détente with life and death, so that you have the perspective to confidently write, as he did about his wife’s death in 1989, “The end was gentle. The very end. Before the first rest at last.” He was writing about Suzanne Beckett, but once you’ve read and reflected on the man in these letters, it’s easy to suspect it is how he experienced his own last moments, his own gentle end, on a winter day in Paris, and just a few days before Christmas.

- Robert Fay via The Atlantic

Congratulations Madonna On Winning Billboard's Women Of The Year

Following a year where she extended her record as the highest-grossing female touring artist of all time, Madonna will receive Billboard's 2016 Woman of the Year award. 

“Madonna is one of a miniscule number of super-artists whose influence and career transcend music,” said Janice Min, president and chief creative officer of The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Media Group. “With her creative vision, relentless innovation, and dedication to philanthropic causes, she is an inspiration to hundreds of millions of people around the world, all while shattering every career record out there. She is an important feminist on top of that, a one-of-a-kind artist who’s used her influence to change the conversation around women, sexuality and equal rights.”

From her Prince tribute alongside Stevie Wonder at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards to her political Met Gala appearance to her indelible commentary on the 2016 election, Madonna has remained a constant force in pop culture and source of cultural conversation over the past year. 

Her Rebel Heart Tour, which wrapped in March, solidified her status as one of the biggest touring acts of all time. Madonna sold more than 1 million tickets and walked away with $170 million. That makes her the highest grossing solo touring artist in Billboard Boxscore history (the archives go back to 1990) with a staggering $1.31 billion in total concert grosses.

In addition to being the first female pop star with true control of her career and image, Madonna is the best-selling female recording artist of all time. She's earned 8 No. 1 albums (and 21 top 10 albums) on the Billboard 200 and 12 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. With her 46th No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs chart in 2015, she extended her own record for the most No. 1s on a single Billboard chart. She also holds the record for the most top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with 38.

In addition to her ongoing chart dominance, her philanthropic efforts are effecting real change in the world. Madonna's Raising Malawi organization is currently constructing Malawi’s first pediatric surgery and intensive care unit, which will double the number of life-saving surgeries performed on children each year, provide intensive care after critical surgeries, and train specialized Malawian medical staff. The Mercy James Institute of Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care facility will open in 2017. 

The seven-time Grammy winner will receive the honor at the 11th annual Women in Music event, held Dec. 9 in New York City and airing nationally on Lifetime on Dec.12. The star-studded event is held in conjunction with the publication of Billboard’s Women in Music list, which identifies the 50 most powerful female executives in the industry each year.

- Billboard Staff via Billboard

How The Honeymoon Stage In Your Relationship Can Last

As psychologist Barbara Fredrickson explains in her book Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do and Become, love is much more fleeting than people think — but, fortunately, it’s endlessly renewable, too.

This wholesale destruction of the primary relationship myth (because, it turns out, we are all falling in and out of love constantly!) got me thinking about other romantic fallacies that might be doing more harm than good. Here’s what I found out.

Love Myth No. 1: You can’t sustain the “honeymoon” period of relationships.

Oh, but you can. In fact, a study conducted by Dr. Bianca Acevedo in 2010 used fMRI to study relationships that had never lost the initial “spark” that occurs early on and found that the brain scans of long-term couples mimicked those who were newly in love — with just one exception. Gone were the anxiety and obsessive thoughts that show up in brain scans of people who are in relationships in the early stages.

“I used to look at my first marriage as sucking because that’s just the way things were supposed to go,” I confessed to my husband. “When I could have actively worked toward sustaining the spark, like I do with you.”

This means: I dare to have great expectations. The other day I surprised my husband the way he so often does with me by buying him a new yearly calendar and writing an inscription in it, “I can’t wait for our next year together.”

- Mandy Stadtmiller via New York Magazine

Ageless? No Actually I Am Awesome

Photo by The Sartorialist

Photo by The Sartorialist

Over the past couple of years (maybe longer), whenever the fashion or beauty industry want to flag something for older women they will call it 'ageless.' So Vogue's annual issue for the older demographic bravely features someone like 47 year old Christy Turlington on the cover to signal that they really get this ageing thing and that fashion is for everyone - even if you are unlucky enough to be nearly 50! Nothing proves more conclusively that we live in a world that cannot come to terms with getting older than taking the word 'age' and adding the word 'less' in order to make ageing go away. It's just as bad as 'anti-ageing' because it implies that there is something profoundly wrong with this natural and inevitable process. So we must 'fight ageing' at best with a face cream (Olay's latest ad: 'For Beautiful Ageless Skin - so you don't have to show your age') or, at worst with plastic surgery.

I think the proponents of 'agelessness' would say that the term encapsulates a freedom from rules associated with being older. We can wear whatever we like, behave as we wish and throw all the old rules out of the window. I am all for that! Want to dye your hair green? Go for it! Want to buy a motorbike and zoom around the world - fantastic idea! Want to get your first tattoo, dance like no-one is watching and 'find yourself' in an ashram in India - yes to all three if that's what takes your fancy. I don't see this as agelessness however. I see it as re-inventing the notion of what it means to be old. Often it's only when we reach 60 plus that we have the time, money and opportunity or even the desire to do many of these things. There is no right or wrong way to age and we are the first generation privileged to be experimenting with all of this - just because we are living for longer as fit, engaged and healthy specimens of the race.

The problem I have with telling older women (and men) that we are all 'ageless' now is that it neatly side-steps all the very real changes that happen as we get older. It has been dreamed up by people in the fashion and beauty industries because they wish that 'ageing' would go away. Designers make clothes to look good on young, lithe, tall, slim bodies. As 95 year old style guru Iris Apfel (right) says: "I think designers are all entirely too youth-oriented. I think a lot of designers create very expensive clothes for women in their 60s and 70s — people who wear them — and they create them on 16- and 18-year-old bodies. The kids can’t afford to buy them and the women look like a horse’s ass if they put it on. So it’s all out of whack.” In a similar way makeup is created to look best when applied to perfectly youthful smooth and flawless skin.  Calling something 'ageless' is intended to blur the boundaries between the ages so that (according to this theory) grandmothers, mothers and daughters can all wear the same clothes, have the same (long flowing) locks and wear the same makeup on our faces. From the back we can all look as if we are about 20. Job done. Ageing has gone away and we can all forget what it means to be 50, 60 or 70 .....until we turn round.

The trouble is, I don't want to emulate the style of someone in their twenties  or thirties. I want a style that is distinctive to me as someone approaching 70. I'd like to be thought of as elegant and sophisticated rather than cool or trendy.  I want to channel Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel and Christine Lagarde (left) not Alexa Chung. I want clothes that have arm-holes big enough to accommodate my flabby arms and sleeves to cover them up. I want tops which are cut to flatter my lower-slung bosom and with necklines to disguise my less than smooth décolleté. I want dresses and skirts which cover my fat knees and allow for my rounded tummy and I want shoes which don't cripple my poor, sore, tired feet. I want a haircut which works with my thinner, greying hair. I want makeup which looks subtly enhancing in soft non glittery colours so that I look like a better version of myself, not like some tragic pantomime dame. Above all I don't want to look as though I am desperately clinging to my younger self.

I'd really love to come up with a better terminology to signal that something is for or about an older person. In magazines or newspapers we are described as retirees, or pensioners or grandmothers, or in the USA 'seniors'. I have even been described as a granpreneur! Or we are silver surfers spending the grey pound. Then there are the euphemisms of 'woman of a certain age', 'golden girl', baby boomer or maybe 'game old bird'. Then there are the insulting terms like 'crusties' or 'the blue-rinse brigade' or 'mutton' (as in 'mutton dressed as lamb.'). And in advertising we are sold things described as 'timeless' or 'classic' or ....'ageless'.

Maybe we should hi-jack a word and make it our own - just as the gay community has done. Homosexuals used to be called vile and  insulting terms like 'queer' or 'pansy' until the word 'gay' was widely adopted. We forget that 'gay' used simply to mean 'happy.'  Our new word for 'older' would need to be positive, upbeat, celebratory, a bit rebellious and joyful to encapsulate the distinctive spirit of our generation which has always refused to accept the status quo.   So how about 'awesome' ? Then we could say: "The best thing I find about being awesome is that I can wear whatever I like as long as it's cut to fit my awesome body. I really enjoy my life now that I am awesome as I feel happier and more confident than I have ever felt. I'd say to anyone worrying about becoming awesome - truly this can be a great time to do new and interesting things and the chances are you will meet lots of other awesome people! "  What do all you awesome women think?

- Tricia Cusden via Look Fabulous Forever

Meditation Affects Your Genes (In A Profound Way)

Photo by Athit Perawongmetha

Photo by Athit Perawongmetha

Do people who meditate age more slowly? It seems unlikely on the face of it. How could sitting immobile with one’s eyes closed, perhaps focusing on the breath, possibly keep the Grim Reaper at bay? That said, the Buddha – surely the archetypal meditator – is reputed to have lived to 80, which must have been an exceptionally ripe old age in 5th century BCE India. And according to Buddhist scriptures, even after 80 years in this realm of existence, in the end it wasn’t old age that finished him off but food poisoning.

Two and a half millennia later there is a small but growing body of evidence that regular meditation really can slow ageing – at least at the cellular level. A commonly used proxy for cellular ageing is the length of telomeres, the DNA and protein caps that protect the ends of each chromosome during cell division. These shorten slightly every time the chromosome replicates, until eventually the cell can no longer divide, becoming senescent or undergoing “apoptosis” – the cellular equivalent of suicide. Having shorter telomeres in your cells is associated with the onset of many age-related diseases, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia. Several lifestyle factors have been found to accelerate telomere shortening, such as poor diet, lack of sleep, smoking, drinking and a sedentary lifestyle.

Chronic stress is also known to accelerate the shortening of telomeres. A study published last month found that long-term meditators had a reduced inflammatory and stress response to psychological and chemical stressors in the lab compared with a control group. By countering the effects of stress, could meditation also indirectly slow cellular ageing? An older study found increased telomere length in the immune cells of people after they took part in an intensive meditation retreat. Another revealed increased activity of an enzyme called telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres, after a similar retreat.

Now a study by Spanish researchers suggests that highly experienced Zen meditators have longer telomeres on average than people of a similar age and lifestyle. The research also hints that the psychological factors underpinning this beneficial effect were that the meditators had a more compassionate, accepting outlook on life.

Scientists at the University of Zaragoza compared 20 people who had been practising Zen meditation for an hour or more a day for at least 10 years with 20 people who had never meditated, matched for age, sex and lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, drinking and exercise. All of them were subjected to a battery of psychological tests and gave blood samples so that the length of telomeres in their immune cells could be measured.

When the researchers crunched the data they found that the meditators’ telomeres were significantly longer than those of the controls, by an average of 10%. They then used a statistical technique called regression analysis to get an idea which factors might be directly responsible for this apparent slowing of cellular ageing. Many psychological traits were associated with having longer telomeres, including greater mindfulness skills, life satisfaction and subjective happiness. But the statistical analysis suggested that only younger age, low “experiential avoidance” and high self-compassion were directly responsible for longer telomeres.

Experiential avoidance is the natural tendency to suppress painful memories, thoughts, emotions and sensations in an effort to gain temporary relief from psychological discomfort. In fact, this mental shying away seems to cause greater problems for us in the long-run. By contrast, mindfulness – both in its original Buddhist context and in modern therapeutic programmes for treating conditions such as chronic pain, depression and drug addiction – involves turning one’s attention towards unpleasant physical and mental experiences in a spirit of nonjudgmental acceptance. So it’s particularly interesting that the Spanish study found that experiential avoidance seemingly leads to faster shortening of telomeres.

There’s cause for optimism, though, that even beginners can start protecting their telomeres from the ravages of time and cell division. A study published in 2013 found that just 15 minutes’ meditation in novices had immediate effects on the expression of many genes, for example increasing the activity of the gene that makes telomerase and reducing the activity of genes involved in inflammatory and stress responses. It’s amazing what sitting still with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath can do for your cells.

-James Kingsland via The Guardian

Madonna, 58, Doesn't Care About Her Age And Neither Should You

"I don't care. It's the rest of society that cares. I don't ever think about my age until someone says something about it. I feel that I have wisdom, experience, knowledge and a point of view that is important. Can a teenager relate to that? Probably not. But that's OK. I understand that. 'Relevance' is a catchphrase that people throw out because we live in a world full of discrimination. Age is only brought up with regard to women. It's connected to sexism, chauvinism and misogyny. When Leonardo is 60 years old, no one is going to talk about his relevance. Am I relevant as a female in this society that hates women? Well, to people who are educated and are not chauvinists or ­misogynists, yes." - Madonna

Age Won't Stop John Cale, 74, From Rock 'N' Roll

Photo by Christian Anwander

Photo by Christian Anwander

John Cale—who at 74 is every bit as visionary and subversive as the young Welsh expat who co-founded the Velvet Underground in 1964—is not afraid of the past. One year after reworking and rereleasing his seminal 1983 album Music for a New Society, Cale is back this Friday with Fragments of a Rainy Season (Double Six / Domino), a reissue of his 1992 album of the same name. Recorded live throughout his touring in the early ‘90s, Fragments features Cale's famous "Hallelujah" cover and a slew of classics and lesser-known songs alike—including some outtakes released for the first time. 

MATT MULLEN: As you mentioned, you rereleased Music For A New Society last year, and I read that this coming spring you're going be performing Velvet Underground music. You don't seem afraid to tackle your past. 

JOHN CALE: No, but I usually tear it up. I usually try to change it all.

MULLEN: Right. So that's what I wanted to ask—how do you approach something when you're pulling from your own history and reworking it? 

CALE: Now that I'm older, I don't try to focus on other things. I try to just focus on the song. As long as I have a little humility for the material, something will happen. Something will come from that, from rediscovering the material anew.

Full interview via Interview Magazine