Aging With Illness
Population Aging in the Developed World
Population Aging in the Developing World
Disease in the Elderly Population
What does it mean to grow old 'gracefully' or 'successfully' in our society? The word 'old' is culturally defined, so each of us needs to look at the norms and definitions of our own country to find the meaning. One definition suggests that successful aging is a prolongation of minimal illness and disability coupled with a maximum participation in, and enjoyment of life (Baltes and Baltes, 1991). If we accept this definition we could go on to agree with Gonzalez-Aragon (1984) when he suggests that psychological factors are more decisive than chronological age, in the aging process, for quality of life during old age. Two common life events cause stress in the elderly: the death of a spouse and the loss of physical health. Both may result in reduced feelings of self-worth and competence. The loss of health reduces the capacity to participate in daily activities, and this threatens the sense of control over environmental challenges leading to feelings of helplessness and despair.
We believe the aim of the health care system for elderly people should be to delay the onset of illness, reducing the final period of infirmity and illness to the shortest possible time. The most effective way to achieve this is health education and preventative medicine to maintain mobility and function. One should constantly bear in mind that changes in lifestyle even in late life may result in