Health, Illness and optimal Aging: Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives
Shakespeare: “though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty; for in my
youth I never did apply hot and rebellious liquors in my blood; nor did not
with unbashful forehead woo: The means of weakness and debility;
therefore my age is as a lusty winter, frosty, but kindly.”
This quote presages the modern recognition that aging processes
are plastic- to a large extent, how we age and the rate at which
we age are balanced between resources to which we have aces
and our exposure to various toxins, both of which are, in part,
reflections of the choices we make.
Psychosocial gerontologists focus on describing what happens cognitively,
emotionally and socially as we age, with a view toward identifying factors
that promote positive aging or increase the risk of negative aging.
It is important to recognize that aging is not necessarily associated with
unmitigated pain and suffering and that older adults can enjoy good
physical and mental health and be cognitively intact
Gerontology is unique among the scientific disciplines in that, since its
inception, it has recognized that interdisciplinary endeavours are required
for understanding the aging process.
Biogerontology has greatly increased our understanding of the genetic and
cellular mechanisms of aging, but the disciplines of psychology, sociology,
and anthropology are also essential for understanding both the process
and ramifications of aging.
In epidemiology and the social sciences, findings may vary across time,
and accepted results that are true for one cohort may not hold for another.
Although the biological processes underlying the aging process were
universal, the rate at which we age is largely a function of culture. How we live and the resources we can use can profoundly affect the way
we age as much, if not more, than our genetic endowment.
Common definition of young-old persons is those between the ages of 65
and 79, and old-old individuals as those between 80 and 99, and the
oldest-old or centenarians, as those who are age 100 or older.
- Young-old individuals are typically healthy and quite functional
- Old-old are more likely to be physically and cognitively frail and in need
- Centenarians vary in that some are extraordinarily frail and others are as
sharp as a tack
Age refers to the number of years a person has been alive.
If a particular phenomenon always changes with age, regardless
of cohort or period, then it is an age effect.
Cohort refers to a groups of people who share the same birth year or
sometimes those who share historical events.
If the change is specific to a particular cohort but does not occur
in any other group, then it is a cohort effect.
It is important note that a cohort may well have experienced a
life course that is historically unique, and this experience may not
generalize to other cohorts.
Period refers to the time at which the measurement or assessment
If all cohorts or ages change at