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Lecture 2

WELL 175 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Dementia, Maximum Life Span, Education In India

Course Code
WELL 175

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I. Understanding Aging & Dying
- Life expectancy in US:
- Caucasian men: 75.7%
- Caucasian women: 80.8%
- African American men: 69.5%
- African American Women: 76.6%
- Between 1950 and 2001 the life expectancy has increased by 9 years
- To attain average or better life expectancy, healthy lifestyles and behaviors must be
adopted while young
II. Dimensions of Aging
- Aging can be thought of in terms of three dimensions that influence each other
- First: Biological Processes
- Physiological development
- Maturation
- Decline
- Second: Social Processes
- Social definitions of aging
- Socially accepted age
- Behaviors
- Third: Psychological Processes
- Personality development
- Intellectual functioning
- Emotional well-being
III. What is Normal Aging?
- Normal aging is a pattern of life changes and declines in most of the functioning
that occurs in members of the species as they grow older, and continue to decline
until normal death
- Key understanding
- In physiological terms, aging can be viewed as an "accumulate damage" to the
body over time that is not replaced or regenerated
- Aging starts as the cells lose their ability to repair DNA, leaving them vulnerable
to maturation, injury, malfunction, disease, and death
- Maximum life span
- The theoretical maximum number of years that individuals of a species can live;
for humans, 120 years
IV. America's Aging Population
- Some gerontologists believe that people in many countries are approaching the
current max average lifespan of 85 to 90 years
- If all cancers could be cured or prevented, only about 3 years of life would be
added to the lifespan to the average person born today
- If all heart disease were eliminated, average expectancy at birth would increase by
about 14 years
- 80% of older Americans have at least one serious chronic medical condition
- 20% have five or more chronic conditions
V. What Determines How Long Humans Can Live?
- Life expectancy differs for different sexes & races based on the following factors:
- Socioeconomic factors
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- Level of education
- Access to health care
VI. Major Theories of Aging
- Several theories of aging have attempted to explain the causes and effects of
aging, among them are two prominent schools of thought:
- Nongenetic: based on the "external environmental factors"
- Genetic: based on the "biological clock factors"
VII. Nongenetic School of Aging --> "Wear and Tear"
- This theory is based on the assumption that living organisms behave like machines
- When things get old, they wear out and finally become unstable
- In general, this theory views human aging and dying as the aging and deterioration
of a car, a television set, computer, or any other machine or appliance
- It also assumes that as a result of normal use, various parts of the human
"machine" finally become worn out and eventually die
- In summary, this theory claims that like everything else in the universe, the human
body wears out, and the more you use (or abuse) your body, the faster it will wear
out and eventually die
VIII. Genetic School of Aging --> "Cellular Theory"
- The basic assumption of this theory is that there is some genetic program
(biological clock) that sets the average upper limit of the life span for all species
- This occurs because of a biological process called "cell senescence" (si'ne'sens)
- Latin for "to grow old"
- It is a process in which a cell "turns off" its capacity to produce new cells, stops
dividing, and has limited function (aging)
- Cell senescence may contribute to aging, but it may also be a protective
mechanism against cancer (a disease state in which cells continue to divide and
grow w/o control)
- For example:
- Why a mayfly has an average lifespan of 1 day,
- a rat's life span is 2 or 3 years
- a dog's life span is about 12 years
- a horse's life span is 25 years, and
- a human's life span is 70+ years
- Also, this theory assumes that cells are genetically set to reproduce for a specific
number of times (lifespan) and then die
- Additionally, this theory purports that, at birth, we have already inherited only a
certain number of usable cells, and these cells are genetically programmed to divide
or reproduce only a limited number of times
- In summary, this theory argues that once these cells reach the end of their cycle,
they begin to die. As a result, the organs they make up and support begin to show
signs of deterioration (aging) and until they eventually die
IX. Age Related Diseases
- Passed "maturation" around the ages of (35-40), the human body begins to
gradually decline in its vital functions showing many diseases, malfunctions, and loss
of abilities
- Alzheimer's Disease (AD) & Senile Dementia
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