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Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging

Health, Illness, and Optimal Aging
Biological and Psychosocial Perspectives

August 2003 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This book undertakes the difficult task of assembling an objective and holistic picture of human aging, including the physical aspects of aging, chronic disease, and health promotion in the later years, for students and professionals. The authors provide comprehensive, multi-disciplinary coverage of the demography of the aging population, theories of aging, and physical aging, including normal age-related changes, disease-related processes, and promotion of optimal aging. They also cover psychosocial aspects of aging, including mental health, stress and coping, and spirituality, as well as care giving in later years.


- a comprehensive approach, with coverage of psychosocial factors that affect physical health in addition to biological aspects of aging, thus providing integrated coverage of information from the fields of biology, psychology, and the social sciences

- coverage of issues in healthcare systems

- case studies in each chapter to augment student understanding with real-life examples

- discussions of methodological issues in some of the research presented to help students become more critical consumers of research and data.

1. Introduction & Basic Concepts
Basic Definitions

Organization of the Book

2. Demography of Aging
Aging in the World

Population in the United States

Demographic Factors and Rate of Aging

3. Theories of Aging
Biological Theories of Aging

Psychosocial Theories and Aging

Psychosocial Factors and Aging

4. Understanding Change in Aging Research
Basic Definitions

Age-Related Designs

Statistics for Assessing Change

Statistics That Predict Change

5. Aging of the Skin and Musculoskeletal System
The Skin

Musculoskeletal System

6. Aging of the Internal Organ Systems
Cardiovascular System

Respiratory System

Gastrointestinal System

Renal/Urinary System

7. Aging and the Regulatory Systems
Sensory Systems

Nervous System

Endocrine System

Immune System

8. Functional Health, Health Promotion, and Quality of Life
Functional Health

Health Promotion in Older Adults

Quality of Life

9. Interface Between Physical and Mental Health
Personality Processes and Disease

Alcohol and Aging

Differentiating Mental and Physical Health Problems

10. Stress, Coping, and Health

Coping with Stress

11. Social Support, Health, and Aging
Characteristics of the Social Support Network

Social Support, Morbidity, and Mortality


12. What is Optimal Aging
Models of Optimal Aging

Wisdom and Optimal Aging

Religiosity, Spirituality, and Optimal Aging

Ars Moriendi - The Art of Dying

Author Index
Subject Index

"Gaining understanding of aging is one of the most complex issues facing twenty-first century science. This book addresses the complexity of the factors that interact and influence the course of our longer life expectancy….How we humans grow old is a product of our genetic background as members of a species and our families. But the genome expresses itself in physical and social environments that modulate the appearance of heredity traits. In a sense aging is an ecological problem in which the dynamics are often difficult to explain….This book brings information from the sciences together in a way that is rarely done…..It provides an integration of knowledge about the dynamics of aging and can promote wisdom about how we can modify the life course to our advantage."

James Birren
From the Foreward

For instructors

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