Behavior, Health, and Aging

By Stephen B. Manuck; Richard Jennings et al. | Go to book overview

3
Aging women, Getting Older, Getting Better?

Elaine Leventhal Universitg of Medicine and Dentistrg Robert wood Johnson Medical School

Whereas traditional medical research has focused on specific illnesses, geriatrics research, with its life-span perspective, takes a more abstract developmental approach to disease. This life-span perspective is even more important in light of the increasing survival of older Americans, and in particular older women. Until the 1991 NIH Initiative on Women's Health, there had been minimal research on the biological and psychological developmental processes that are important for those diseases that are more common and more serious in women of all ages as well as those that are unique to older women. Such diseases may present atypically, and the resultant diagnostic dilemmas may depend on gender differences in onset and pathophysiology. There are also reported differences in response to and outcomes from treatments in women that may reflect the extrapolation of clinical research findings based solely on research on men to clinical practice in women.

This chapter provides an opportunity to discuss those issues. It is organized to demonstrate gender differences in symptomatology, behavior, and outcome that may affect the physical and psychosocial consequences of "intervention" on health, on the development of frailty or loss of functional independence, and ultimately on the health care system.

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