This book comprises 25 chapters divided into three parts: General Perspectives, Aging of Systems and Organs, and Prevention and Rehabilitation. Our goal is to provide a book that will be useful to a broad spectrum of readers: those preparing for a career in gerontology or geriatrics, those interested in aging as a specific topic in biology, and older persons (as well as their families and caretakers) who would like to better understand and distinguish age-related changes occurring in the body over time. The joint fields of gerontology and geriatrics are fast expanding, and they attract people from many disciplines, all of whom require a common understanding of the fundamental principles of aging. Using physiology as the unifying concept, this book assimilates and distills information from multiple sources to produce a comprehensive text accessible to a wide audience.
Any consideration of the aging process cannot ignore psychological, social, and economic components, and this is particularly so for the geriatrician, who must deal with the patient from a holistic perspective. Although such factors are vital to a full understanding of this phase of life, an in-depth exploration of their contribution is beyond the scope of this book; the reader will be referred to appropriate publications for further study.
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For centuries, ever since the legendary Ponce de Leon went searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth, people have been looking for ways to slow down the aging process. Medical science has made great strides in keeping people alive longer by preventing and curing disease, and helping people to live healthier lives. Average life expectancy keeps increasing, and most of us can look forward to the chance to live much longer lives than our ancestors.