EDHD 400 The Physical Context of Aging Fall 2011

Social Gerontology: A Multidisciplinary Perspective (9th Edition)

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The Physical Context of Aging For most people, aging is defined primarily by its visible physical signs: e.g., graying hair, sagging and wrinkled skin, and walking slower. There are social consequences for these visible age changes. In addition, numerous other changes that are not visible occur in internal organ systems. Changes in the relative efficiency of the functional capacity of these organ systems is related to advancing age in adulthood.
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Bernard Strehler’s Criteria for “Normal Aging” Guidelines help to distinguish primary aging (maturational changes) from secondary aging([pathology or disease processes). To be considered a normal aging phenomenon, a process must meet 4 criteria: The process must be universal. The process must be deleterious. The process must be progressive. These losses must be intrinsic.
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Universality Virtually all individuals of a species experience the phenomenon. For example, all humans experience age- related changes in visual accommodation, but not all individuals develop macular generation.
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Deleterious To meet the guidelines of aging, a process must result in physiological decline which is harmful to an individual.
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Progressive The aging process is progressive; that is, losses are gradual over an extended period of time.
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Intrinsic Age-related losses are intrinsic; that is, these changes cannot be corrected by the organism.
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Aging vs. Pathology These guidelines help to distinguish aging from disease processes or pathology. Disease or pathology may be (and should be) treated. Methodological Issue – Salthouse recommends excluding those aged 70+ years from studies of the normal aging process.
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Oldest-Old Among those 70+ years, functional status typically is affected both by normal aging and by chronic disease processes. If one’s goal is to study “normal aging”, the effects of disease processes must be controlled. In the aging service delivery system, however, clients’ function reflects the joint effects of normal and pathological aging. Accommodations must be made to compensate for both types of loss.
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Normal Age-related Physical Changes Biological aging, or senescence, is defined as the normal process of changes in the body and its components over time. Physical aging is a gradual process common to all living organisms that eventually affects an individual’s functioning. However, aging is not synonymous with disease.
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Can Aging Be Reversed or Delayed? Growth hormones – effects short-lived Caloric restriction – delays onset of puberty Anti-aging compounds – research focus on simple organisms; fruit flies and worms
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Growth Hormones One promising compound is DHEA – dehydroepiandrosterone. This hormone is secreted by the adrenal glands, and the body converts it into testosterone and estrogen. Production of DHEA increase from age 7 to
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EDHD 400 The Physical Context of Aging Fall 2011 - The...

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