Gerontology is the study of the cultural, cognitive, social, biological, and psychological aspects of aging. It is different from geriatrics, which is a specialty in treating diseases associated with the elderly. Gerontologists include specialists in the fields of biology, medicine, nursing, dentistry, criminology, sociology, psychiatry, psychology, public health, pharmacy, housing, and many more. Gerontology also involves the study of policy issues such as government planning, nursing homes, and the effects of an elderly population on society.
Demographics Of The Elderly
The world is undergoing a rapid population aging thanks to advancements in medicine that prolongs life. In 1900, the population of people above the age of 65 in the US was estimated at 3.1 million, and by 2010 the number had risen to 40.3 million. Recently, the aging population was growing faster than the total population of the United States. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of the US rose by 9.7% while that of people aged above 65 rose by 15.1%. Estimates show that by 2025, a quarter of the population in Canada and the US will be 65 years or older, and by 2050, the population will be higher than the population below 14 years. As of 2018, 8.8% of the global population was above the age of 65, with Japan reporting the world's highest at 28%. This trend in population necessitated the need to study the science of aging.
Biogerontology is concerned with the biological process of aging, the evolutionary origin, and the possible means to interfere. It involves research on the causes, mechanisms, and effects of old age. Biogerontologists differ on the lifespan of humans; conservatives argue that 92 years is the human life expectancy, while others argue that people in industrialized countries will live to be 100 for those born after 2000. This field tries to study how biological processes affect how people age and aims at preventing age-related diseases.
Social gerontology is a discipline that specializes in the social aspects of old age. It encompasses sociology, psychology, social work, public health, nursing, and other social sciences. The field aims at researching and educating the society on issues affecting the elderly.
This field specializes in the interaction between the elderly and their social and physical environments. In the 1980s, research confirmed that the social and physical environment played a crucial role in understanding the aging process and influenced the quality of life and that an excellent physical-social environment increases the lifespan of human beings.