Healthy Mind

This New Wellness Clinic Wants You To Know That Age Is Just a Number—And a Subjective One at That

Photos: Courtesy Modern Age; Graphic: Well+Good Creative
Short of inventing time travel, figuring out how to slow down or even reverse your aging process might seem like an impossibility (or, at the very least, an improbability). And it’s true: Aging is, itself, inevitable. But exactly how it happens and how long it takes is subject not only to your genetics, but also to a whole host of environmental and lifestyle factors that are, in fact, within your control. Perhaps the most often overlooked of those factors is simply how young or old you feel, regardless of your chronological age. Because having a positive perception of your age—or feeling younger than you are—can have a meaningful impact on your actual longevity, helping you to lower your "subjective age" is the core intention of newly opened New York City wellness clinic Modern Age.

That idea is a big departure from the preexisting cultural framework for aging—which pins the process as merely an inevitability rather than something you can actively influence. It was watching her own mother’s passive take on aging that first inspired Modern Age founder and CEO Melissa Eamer to question whether there might be another way. “It seemed like one day, after my sisters and I all went to college, my mom basically decided that her job was done and that she was old,” she says. “And her health just started to decline pretty quickly after that.”

“How old you feel really has a huge impact on how long you live through a virtuous cycle.” —Melissa Eamer, founder and CEO of Modern Age

By digging into scientific research about subjective age, Eamer learned that "how old you feel really has a huge impact on how long you live," she says. "If you feel younger, for example, you’re more likely to be active in your community, and active in physical exercise and in looking to nourish your body." In fact, that benefit may translate biologically, too: A small 2018 study on 68 older adults found that those with a lower subjective age also had larger volumes of gray matter in certain regions of their brains and younger predicted brain ages based on fMRI scans.

It follows that the reverse perception—seeing yourself as older than you are—can have just the opposite and detrimental effect on your health, both through the above brain-related pathway and “by allowing you to check out or stop actively investing in your well-being,” says Eamer. And that’s where paying a visit to Modern Age comes into play.

How the Modern Age wellness clinic is designed to help you lower your subjective age

Learning to perceive yourself as younger (and reaping the longevity benefits that follow) isn’t as simple as waking up one day and deciding to feel that way. The concept of subjective age is intimately linked with how you physically feel, your visual perception of yourself when you look in the mirror, and your psychological outlook on life, all of which are addressed in an on-site consultation at Modern Age and will be included in Modern Age’s soon-to-come online Subjective Age assessment. Whether you visit in-person or virtually (so long as you’re in the state of New York), you’ll also be guided to snap selfies from various angles, which are scanned by proprietary software and assessed as part of the visual component factoring into your subjective age.

“There’s a feedback loop running between your physical health, how you look, and how you feel,” says internal-medicine physician Anant Vinjamoori, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer at Modern Age. “That’s why we start approaching a patient by understanding the areas of their aging journey that they wish could be better, whether that’s elements of visible appearance like skin or hair changes, or how they feel physically, in terms of energy, mood, ability to recover from injury, and things of that nature, which are often tied to hormonal changes.”

Services and treatments on offer are divided into four categories—skin, hair, hormones, and bones—to address the above concerns directly. And these are conscious areas of focus particularly because of how early in life and how commonly they can reflect signs of aging, says Eamer.

“Skin was the obvious starting place because we found in our research that it’s the first place people notice aging, starting as early as in their thirties, and hair was a natural addition because we know that 40 percent of women note visible hair loss by the time they’re 40 years old,” Eamer says, citing research from the American Academy of Dermatology. From there, hormones made sense to consider, given the ways in which they can influence the above shifts, and bone changes came into play mostly because bone loss isn’t typically addressed until it’s too late and can have a major impact on longevity, she adds.

“We reach peak bone mass roughly in our late twenties, and we start to see declines in our thirties, which can later lead to fragility fractures that are problematic for overall health,” says Dr. Vinjamoori. In fact, that’s why every consultation at Modern Age starts with a bone-density scan, which uses ultrasound technology to “assess whether you might be somebody who’s declining in bone mass faster than other people your age,” says Dr. Vinjamoori. “If you are, we can put together a plan to address that, which might include a lifestyle component and certain supplements.”

In the categories of skin changes and hair loss, you’ll find treatments like microneedling and plasma-rich platelet injections, respectively, whereas hormone health is addressed through a diagnostic blood test, and both prescription and over-the-counter supplements; also on offer are IV drip therapies for aging concerns related to energy and immunity. And it’s all done in chic treatment rooms that feel far less clinical than a typical doctor’s office, designed by architectural designer Madelynn Ringo with rounded walls to reflect the curvatures of the human form and color-changing skylights that pair with guided meditations to soothe any pre-service nerves.

Based on your particular aging-related goals, you can develop a treatment plan combining any of the above services provided by the on-site team of practitioners, which includes a gynecologist, dermatologist, and functional-medicine doctors. (It’s worth noting that this process could be cost-prohibitive for some, given that none of these are covered by insurance as of now.) Over time, you’ll be able to track your progress by retaking the Subjective Age assessment online, and checking to see how the interventions you’re doing may be helping to lower that age, says Eamer: “My hope is that this will allow people to feel more control and more agency over what the future holds, and to be more optimistic about it as a result.”

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