File Name: aging and the life course an introduction to social gerontology .zip
NCBI Bookshelf. New Directions in the Sociology of Aging. Jacqueline L.
Gerontology is the study of the social , cultural , psychological , cognitive , and biological aspects of aging. Gerontologists include researchers and practitioners in the fields of biology, nursing, medicine, criminology, dentistry, social work, physical and occupational therapy, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, economics, political science, architecture, geography, pharmacy, public health, housing, and anthropology.
The multidisciplinary nature of gerontology means that there are a number of sub-fields which overlap with gerontology. There are policy issues, for example, involved in government planning and the operation of nursing homes, investigating the effects of an aging population on society, and the design of residential spaces for older people that facilitate the development of a sense of place or home.
Lawton, a behavioral psychologist at the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, was among the first to recognize the need for living spaces designed to accommodate the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer's disease. As an academic discipline the field is relatively new. In the medieval Islamic world , several physicians wrote on issues related to Gerontology. Avicenna 's The Canon of Medicine offered instruction for the care of the aged, including diet and remedies for problems including constipation.
National Library of Medicine, While the number of aged humans, and the life expectancy , tended to increase in every century since the 14th, society tended to consider caring for an elderly relative as a family issue. It was not until the coming of the Industrial Revolution that ideas shifted in favor of a societal care-system.
Modern pioneers like James Birren began organizing gerontology as its own field in the s, later being involved in starting a US government agency on aging — the National Institute on Aging  — programs in gerontology at the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles , and as past president of the Gerontological Society of America founded in The world is forecast to undergo rapid population aging in the next several decades.
In , there were 3. However, this population continued to grow throughout the 20th century and reached Notably, in the United States and across the world, the "baby boomer" generation began to turn 65 in Recently, the population aged 65 years and older has grown at a faster rate than the total population in the United States. The total population increased by 9. However, the population aged 65 years and older increased by Moreover, by , it is predicted that, for the first time in United States history, the number of individuals aged 60 years and older will be greater than the number of children aged 0 to 14 years.
However, the largest percentage point increase among the oldest-old occurred in the to year-old age group, which increased from With the rapid growth of the aging population, social work education and training specialized in older adults and practitioners interested in working with older adults are increasingly in demand.
There has been a considerable disparity between the number of men and women in the older population in the United States. In both and , women outnumbered men in the older population at every single year of age e.
The sex ratio , which is a measure used to indicate the balance of males to females in a population, is calculated by taking the number of males divided by the number of females, and multiplying by Therefore, the sex ratio is the number of males per females. In , there were However, this represented an increase from when there were Although the gender gap between men and women has narrowed, women continue to have a greater life expectancy and lower mortality rates at older ages relative to men.
For example, the Census reported that there were approximately twice as many women as men living in the United States at 89 years of age , versus ,, respectively.
The number and percentage of older adults living in the United States vary across the four different regions Northeast, Midwest, West, and South defined by the United States census. In , the South contained the greatest number of people aged 65 years and older and 85 years and older. However, proportionately, the Northeast contains the largest percentage of adults aged 65 years and older Relative to the Census , all geographic regions demonstrated positive growth in the population of adults aged 65 years and older and 85 years and older.
The most rapid growth in the population of adults aged 65 years and older was evident in the West Likewise, in the population aged 85 years and older, the West It is worth highlighting that Rhode Island was the only state that experienced a reduction in the number of people aged 65 years and older, and declined from , in to , in Conversely, all states exhibited an increase in the population of adults aged 85 years and older from to Biogerontology is the sub-field of gerontology concerned with the biological aging process , its evolutionary origins, and potential means to intervene in the process.
It involves interdisciplinary research on biological aging's causes, effects, and mechanisms. Conservative biogerontologists such as Leonard Hayflick have predicted that the human life expectancy will peak at about 92 years old,  while others such as James Vaupel have predicted that, in industrialized countries, life expectancies will reach for children born after the year Biomedical gerontology , also known as experimental gerontology and life extension , is a sub-discipline of biogerontology that endeavors to slow, prevent, and even reverse aging in both humans and animals.
Most " life extensionists " believe the human life span can be increased within the next century, if not sooner. Biogerontologists vary in the degree to which they focus on the study of the aging process as a means of mitigating the diseases of aging or extending lifespan, although most agree that extension of lifespan will necessarily flow from reductions in age-related disease and frailty, although some argue that maximum life span cannot be altered or that it is undesirable to try.
Geroscience is a recently formulated interdisciplinary field that embraces biomedical gerontology as the center of preventing diseases of aging through science. In contrast with biogerontology, which aims to prevent age-related disease by intervening in aging processes, geriatrics is a field of medicine that studies the treatment of existing disease in aging people. There are numerous theories of aging, and no one theory has been accepted.
There is a wide spectrum of the types of theories for the causes of aging with programmed theories on one extreme and error theories on the other. Regardless of the theory, a commonality is that as humans age, functions of the body decline. Stochastic theories of aging are theories suggesting that aging is caused by small changes in the body over time and the body's failure to restore the system and mend the damages to the body.
The cells and tissues are eventually injured due to the damage gathered over time. This causes the diminishes in an organ's function related to age. The notion of accumulated damage was first introduced by Weisman as the "wear and tear" theory. Wear and tear theories of aging suggest that as an individual ages, body parts such as cells and organs wear out from continued use.
Wearing of the body can be attributable to internal or external causes that eventually lead to an accumulation of insults which surpasses the capacity for repair. Due to these internal and external insults, cells lose their ability to regenerate, which ultimately leads to mechanical and chemical exhaustion. Some insults include chemicals in the air, food, or smoke. Other insults may be things such as viruses, trauma, free radicals, cross-linking, and high body temperature. Accumulation theories of aging suggest that aging is bodily decline that results from an accumulation of elements, whether introduced to the body from the environment or resulting from cell metabolism.
Free radicals are reactive molecules produced by cellular and environmental processes, and can damage the elements of the cell such as the cell membrane and DNA and cause irreversible damage.
The free-radical theory of aging proposes that this damage cumulatively degrades the biological function of cells and impacts the process of aging. These conditions become more common as humans grow older and include diseases related to aging, such as dementia, cancer and heart disease. DNA damage has been one of the many causes in diseases related to aging.
The stability of the genome is defined by the cells machinery of repair, damage tolerance, and checkpoint pathways that counteracts DNA damage. One hypothesis proposed by Gioacchino Failla in  is that damage accumulation to the DNA causes aging. The cross-linking theory proposes that advanced glycation end-products stable bonds formed by the binding of glucose to proteins and other aberrant cross-links accumulating in aging tissues is the cause of aging.
The crosslinking of proteins disables their biological functions. The hardening of the connective tissue, kidney diseases, and enlargement of the heart are connected to the cross-linking of proteins. Crosslinking of DNA can induce replication errors, and this leads to deformed cells and increases the risk of cancer. Genetic theories of aging propose that aging is programmed within each individual's genes. According to this theory, genes dictate cellular longevity. Programmed cell death, or apoptosis , is determined by a "biological clock" via genetic information in the nucleus of the cell.
Genes responsible for apoptosis provide an explanation for cell death, but are less applicable to death of an entire organism. An increase in cellular apoptosis may correlate to aging, but is not a 'cause of death'. Environmental factors and genetic mutations can influence gene expression and accelerate aging.
More recently epigenetics have been explored as a contributing factor. The epigenetic clock , which objectively measures the biological age of cells and tissues, may become useful for testing different biological aging theories. General imbalance theories of aging suggest that body systems, such as the endocrine , nervous , and immune systems, gradually decline and ultimately fail to function.
The rate of failure varies system by system. The immunological theory of aging suggests that the immune system weakens as an organism ages. This makes the organism unable to fight infections and less able to destroy old and neoplastic cells. This leads to aging and will eventually lead to death.
This theory of aging was developed by Ray Walford, an American gerontologist. According to Walford, incorrect immunological procedures are the cause of the process of aging. Social gerontology is a multi-disciplinary sub-field that specializes in studying or working with older adults. Social gerontologists may have degrees or training in social work , nursing , psychology , sociology , demography , public health , or other social science disciplines. Social gerontologists are responsible for educating, researching, and advancing the broader causes of older people.
Because issues of life span and life extension need numbers to quantify them, there is an overlap with demography. Those who study the demography of the human life span differ from those who study the social demographics of aging.
Several theories of aging are developed to observe the aging process of older adults in society as well as how these processes are interpreted by men and women as they age. Activity theory was developed and elaborated by Cavan, Havighurst, and Albrecht. According to this theory, older adults' self-concept depends on social interactions.
In order for older adults to maintain morale in old age, substitutions must be made for lost roles. Examples of lost roles include retirement from a job or loss of a spouse. Activity is preferable to inactivity because it facilitates well-being on multiple levels. Because of improved general health and prosperity in the older population, remaining active is more feasible now than when this theory was first proposed by Havighurst nearly six decades ago.
The activity theory is applicable for a stable, post-industrial society , which offers its older members many opportunities for meaningful participation. Weakness: Some aging persons cannot maintain a middle-aged lifestyle, due to functional limitations, lack of income, or lack of a desire to do so. Many older adults lack the resources to maintain active roles in society.
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Gerontology is the study of the social , cultural , psychological , cognitive , and biological aspects of aging. Gerontologists include researchers and practitioners in the fields of biology, nursing, medicine, criminology, dentistry, social work, physical and occupational therapy, psychology, psychiatry, sociology, economics, political science, architecture, geography, pharmacy, public health, housing, and anthropology. The multidisciplinary nature of gerontology means that there are a number of sub-fields which overlap with gerontology. There are policy issues, for example, involved in government planning and the operation of nursing homes, investigating the effects of an aging population on society, and the design of residential spaces for older people that facilitate the development of a sense of place or home. Lawton, a behavioral psychologist at the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, was among the first to recognize the need for living spaces designed to accommodate the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer's disease.
Aging and the Life Course: An Introduction to Social Gerontology, 7th Edition by Jill Quadagno () Preview the textbook, purchase or get a FREE.
Home Issues Active and Successful Aging. Sociologists Georg Simmel and Max Weber conceived the idea of lifestyle to identify the social connections between individualism and consumerism that emerged with modernity. Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens and others have given lifestyle critical relevance in their work by including questions of agency and structure in post-traditional society. At the same time, such models have neglected the theoretical and critical value of lifestyle as a concept for understanding age inequalities and the social determinants of health in later life. This article revisits the story of lifestyle in order to reinstate its importance to aging studies.
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