Aging is caused by damage. Age-related diseases are the end result of sizable amounts of that damage, branched out into a network of interacting downstream consequences and system failures. Aging and age-related disease are points on a continuum; age-related disease is an integral part of aging. Yet the predominant way in which researchers and clinicians view aging and age related disease remains one in which an artificial, arbitrary line is drawn between these two things. There is “normal aging” and there is disease. What to make of this when there is very little difference between the level of damage and dysfunction in two people who stand just on either side of that line? Further, the line is subjective, argued over, and interpreted in different ways by different groups, even in fields that apply reliable metrics and a cutoff point.
This business of arbitrary lines is driven by regulation, and the regulation of medicine still proceeds from the basis that aging is distinct from age-related disease – that aging is not a medical condition, should not be treated, is natural, normal, and beyond the bounds of medicine. The result is the present situation, in that regulators such the