An Introduction to Gerontology by Ian Stuart-Hamilton

By Ian Stuart-Hamilton

With the world's inhabitants getting more and more older, there hasn't ever been a extra urgent desire for the learn of previous age and getting older. An creation to Gerontology presents a wide-ranging creation to this significant subject. via assuming no earlier professional wisdom and heading off jargon, this booklet will consultant scholars via the entire major topics in gerontology, overlaying either conventional parts, comparable to organic and social ageing, in addition to extra modern parts, akin to expertise, the humanities, sexuality and schooling of older adults. An advent to Gerontology is written by means of a crew of overseas authors with multidisciplinary backgrounds who draw proof from a number of assorted views and traditions.

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The greying of the population, discussed elsewhere (see Chapter 1), implies major medical and societal changes. 12 on Thu Oct 11 11:23:13 BST 2012. 002 Cambridge Books Online © Cambridge University Press, 2012 22 ˜ Pedro de Magalhaes ˜ Joao neurodegenerative diseases. The study of the biological mechanisms of ageing is thus not merely a topic of scientific curiosity, but a crucial area of research throughout the twenty-first century. In recent years, considerable progress has been made in understanding the biology of ageing.

Intriguingly, some organisms are semelparous, which means they reproduce only once (also called ‘big bang reproduction’), in contrast to iteroparous species like humans that can reproduce multiple times across the lifespan. The classical example of a semelparous species is the salmon, which dies shortly after spawning, exhibiting several pathologies. Castrated animals live longer and a hormonal cascade appears to trigger both reproduction and degeneration leading to death (Finch, 1990; Gosden, 1996; Hayflick, 1994).

Besides, discriminating between causes and effects of a complex biological process such as ageing is problematic, even if the new genetic technologies have opened up new opportunities to move beyond correlative studies. Although the search for a causal factor in ageing remains fruitless, if indeed we could identify a unifying process of ageing it would be remarkable, and a critical step for developing anti-ageing therapies (as discussed further below). What follows is a succinct, non-exhaustive description of the most influential mechanistic theories of ageing.

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