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Gerontology: what is aging?

June 26, 2022
Геронтология

Old age is the final stage of a person’s life path, which is no less significant than other periods of life. According to the American psychologist Eric Homburger Erickson, a 65-old person is moving into the age of ego-integration. This is the period when the time for reflection comes, and the psycho-social parameter of this stage is concluded between two different concepts: wholeness and hopelessness. At this time, a person evaluates how he or she has lived his or her life, and also gets the opportunity to summarize and pass on the experience to younger generations. Also, this age features the number of changes in the human body. The health of the elderly is an object of gerontology.  What kind of science it is and what it studies, we will consider in this article.

What is gerontology?

Gerontology is a science whose subject of study is such a phenomenon as aging of people and other living beings. Also, she is looking for ways to prolong youth and activity. Etymologically, this word comes from the Greek term “gerontos”, which means “elder”. Gerontology has very close ties with medicine, since its main task is to find and explore the biologic factors that cause getting aged. Age-related changes are studied not only at the level of the whole organism, but also at the level of molecules and cells. Sometimes it is confused with geriatrics, but this is a separate branch that studies the diseases of the elderly.

History of gerontology development

The first person to talk about the need for research on illnesses of the elderly was Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot at the end of the nineteenth century. Until the 20th century, such studies were very rare. But a few years later it was recorded that there were a lot of structural and functional modifications in cells, tissues and organs in diseases with people after 65 years and that understanding these mechanisms can reduce the possibility of diseases in this age category. This is where gerontology as the science of aging begins.

In the 30s of the XX century, Marjorie Warren, a doctor who is believed to be the mother of modern geriatric medicine, said that specialty care for elderly patients can prevent a number of serious consequences of aging. Since in the XX-th century the category of people over sixty-five years old began to make up the majority of the population in plethora of territories, there was a need for doctors who treat diseases related to the senior age.

Sections of gerontology

The science of aging has three directions:

  1. Fundamental – studies the mechanisms of aging, the issue of longevity and the prevention of early old age.
  2. Social – explores the connection of older people with society, is designed to solve issues that can improve their quality of life.
  3. Geriatrics – focuses on different abnormalities and health problems.

Types of aging

There are three types of aging that are the subject of gerontology:

  • Natural. This species is considered the norm, since it corresponds to the natural features of the functioning of the genome.
  • Premature. It is a serious problem that can greatly reduce the quality of human life. Premature aging manifests itself in a decline in strength, poor health, even when there are no diseases.
  • Slowed. This kind of aging is a logical consequence of healthy and balanced lifestyle; it features long years of life and the absence of severe diagnoses.

Old age: the main aspects

As a rule, the typical features of a person in years are a decrease in physical and mental performance, the difficult development of new conditioned reflexes. Many scientists claim that the condition of people in old age depends on genetic data. But it is possible to prevent premature aging by making efforts to do so. It is also important to live a full and healthy life, a balanced diet and regular physical activity. It is also important to remember about mental activity. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is a rather complex disease, and the results of treatment are not always pleasing, so it is better to try to do the maximum possible to avoid this complex ailment. A very positive effect of memory disorders is brought by new sensations and positive emotions. And also, an interest in life helps to preserve health and prolong life itself.

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