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FAQ - Senescence and Old Age

1. Why would an elderly person suffering from diseases associated with aging  wish to be cryonized?

2. What is aging and why should it be regarded as an incurable disease?

3. Is there in cryonization any hope for a person who died from Alzheimer’s disease?

4. Isn’t death a mechanism for purging outdated thinking?

 

1. Why would an elderly person suffering from diseases associated with aging  wish to be cryonized?

Science of the future will be able cure aging and related diseases.  Medical science of the future will undoubtedly be able not only to arrest but actually to reverse and rejuvenate every aspect of aging. Future technologies will be able to keep everyone forever young and  healthy. The eradication of what we think of as natural death will leave only death by accident.  Cryonics serves as an interim stop gap in the interim. Natural death is not yet currently preventable. In the future, death will not only be preventable but reversible. But severe enough decay will remain irreversible, so that death will then be permanent. That is where cryonics comes in: Cryonization forestalls decay, facilitating reversibility of medical death that will become possible in the future.

2. What is aging and why should it be regarded as an incurable disease?

Cellular aging is ongoing at the molecular level. Molecular damage to proteins, DNA and other macromolecules can be repaired by substituting or restoring the damaged molecules.  A new day is dawning towards safe medical application of what has been accomplished in the laboratory.

The range of promising life extension and medical technologies under development to combat aging in  the Wikipedia entry on Life extension 

More technical information on the mechanisms of aging can be found in the article: ‘Mechanisms of Aging.’

3. Is there any hope for a person who died from Alzheimer’s disease?

Victims of Alzheimer’s disease lose lots of neurons, however all people are losing their neurons throughout their life and it usually doesn’t cause any noticeable loss of personality. Many neurons in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient are not destroyed, but merely weakened or disconnected by protein aggregates. Probably in the future,  technology will appear to repair such molecular damage, restore those neurons to full function and also to eliminate damage caused by other diseases and by the cryonization process itself. It will be also possible to determine the original brain/neuron structure based on the neurons left or even reminiscences. For more about Alzheimer’s disease,' see the article ‘Alzheimer's Disease: Molecular Mechanisms.’)

4. Isn’t death a mechanism for purging outdated thinking? 

It is a truism that the elderly people are very stubborn, conservative, fixated in their thinking, and unable to adapt in an ever changing world. The perception is that the elderly take the very esteem of their experience, expertise and ability, as license to block and ignore new ideas, thus impeding progress. But this problem is to a great degree explainable by aging in the brain. Most people over 90 suffer in some degree from some form of dementia. Changes subtle and obscure or blatant and obvious, associated with senescence, can be undoubtedly seen in all elderly people. If the effects of aging on human brain will be eliminated, most of these problems will be solved. Therefore the society will no longer  lose priceless wisdom and experience with each individual death. Youth will no longer be wasted exclusively on the young!

Of course, quite aside from neurological aging, it’s also true that many people hold on to certain convictions and they don’t change them no matter how conclusive the mounting refutation. And many regard this as human nature. But in truth, not everyone is like that.  But even if the tendency were indeed universal,  it doesn’t follow that death  is of use to society. How can a universal death sentence truly be a social good?  Who wins when everybody must die? Progress means overcoming adverse conditions such as war, oppression, hunger, poverty and environmental pollution. And this applies no less to aging and death. Society should also find ways to reach out to even the most entrenched of thinkers instead  and continue to make best use of their knowledge  by lengthening their lives. In the alternative, what is the point of societal advance at the expense of human lives? How Draconian! When people are annoying, in exasperation we may shout at them: “Drop dead!!” But we don’t really mean it.

 

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