WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As anti-aging technologies arrive one day the elderly may well have the bodies and minds much younger than their years, and that will cause a societal dilemma.
There’s a lot more than you might realise going on in the world of ageing, or more specifically anti-ageing technology, whether it’s researchers trying to classify ageing as a disease which would ironically help new treatments for it get regulatory approval from the US FDA, or new pills and stem cell therapies that are now going through human trials which have extended the lives of mice and rats by at least 30 percent. And all these new developments beg the question – in the future will age just be an irrelevant number? After all, if we are 70 but have the mental acuity and physical characteristics of a 30 year old should you be forced to retire or should you be allowed to keep working? And there are a million more questions too…
This particular question though is one that a Dutch man, Emile Ratelband, a youthful 69 year old, is challenging, all be the fact that his “vitality” comes from good diet and plenty of exercise not anti-aging treatments. And even though in today’s world Ratelband’s court case to legally change his age from 69 to 49, just looks like the irrelevant rantings of an over zealous elderly person the case, the results, favourable or not, could have some interesting consequences for us all in the future. But just to be clear I don’t expect him to win, but in the future… well, who knows?
Image: Emile Ratelband
In this particular case Ratelband, a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and former daytime TV programme host, is attempting to move his birthday from 11 March 1949 to 11 March 1969.
“You can change your name. You can change your gender. Why not your age? Nowhere are you so discriminated against as with your age,” Ratelband told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. And he claims his doctor told him he had the body of someone more than 20 years younger than his age. Don’t we all wish eh!?
The father of seven, who describes himself as a “young god”, said being legally able to identify as a younger man would give him opportunities currently denied to him.
“If I am 69 years old, I will be notified of my limitations. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, I can drive another car … If I put on Tinder that I am 69, I will not get a response. If I’m 49, with that face of mine, I will be in a luxurious position.”
He’s taking action against his local authority and has previously threatened to take the state to court, after they rejected his attempts to lower his age by 20 years, saying his “wish is not possible”.
“Emile can indeed make a request for a reduction in age, and that will be rejected by the municipality,” a lawyer told De Telegraaf.
The case has now gone to a court in Arnhem, a city in the east Netherlands, and a ruling is expected soon. Ratelband has also said he would give up his pension if the court ruled in his favour, and he wants to become a father again and is currently looking for surrogate mothers – he has apparently interviewed more than twenty women already.
“I was with a friend and held her newborn son. She said, ‘You should become a dad again’. I said I did not want the s*** of those women anymore. ‘Then ask a surrogate mother’, she said. I thought that was a good idea,” he added.
On his website, Ratelband claims he “became a millionaire at 21 years old”, but went bankrupt 16 years later. He later rebuilt his wealth writing motivational books, and his “age focus is to turn at least 94 years old and to then leave this world healthy and with pleasure when it has become a better place for everyone,” the site says, but it does not say whether this includes the additional 20 years his legal challenge would add to this target.
Everything said though, whatever the eventual outcome of his case, it’s highly likely that in the next two to three decades we will start seeing the emergence of people whose biological age doesn’t line up with their birth dates, and what then? I guess, for now at least, we’ll just have to wait and see.