Gerontology is the study of aging. It delves into the biological, social, psychological, as well as the cultural aspect of aging. This has to be distinguished from geriatrics, which is an aspect of medicine that specializes in treating of older people.
People who specialize in taking care of aged people cut across various disciplines. They include practitioners and researchers in such fields like nursing, biology, medicine, dentistry, criminology, sociology, anthropology, housing, psychiatry, psychology, political science and so on.
Gerontology also includes such areas like:
Studying the various aspects of older people such as their mental, physical, as well as social changes as they aged, and so on.
It includes studying those biological processes of aging, and it includes such things like causes of aging, effects as well as the aging mechanism also known as biogerontology.
Furthermore, it studies those psychological effects of aging also known as psychogerontology.
It studies what is known as geroscience, which is the interface between biological aging with disease related to aging. They also study demography, which is the effect ageing population has on society.
These simply show that there is a multidisciplinary approach to the study of gerontology. There are different fields as well as subfields that are associated with gerontology.
It is expected that the world will undergo a rapid aging population in several decades to come. The trend started in 1900, when there were 3.1 million people who were within the age of sixty-five year and above in the United States of America. This growth pattern continued for the 20th century when it reached 31.2 million in 1990, 35 million in 2000, as well as 40.3 million in 2010. In the United States of America, baby boomers will turn 65 in the year 2011. This means that more people will join the aging population.
Aged population is growing faster than the total population. While the rate of population growth in the country increases by 9.7 percent, this is not the case with those above sixty-five years and above. The population growth rate for that age is 15.1 percent. If the trend is to continue, it means that more than twenty-five percent of the population will be above sixty-five years in the US and Canada by the year 2025.
It is estimated by the current trend that by the 2050 that the aged population in America for the first time will be larger than those below 14 years. In the same way, the number of aged population above 85 years will increase to 21 million by the year 2050 from 5.3 million.
Adults aged between 85 to 90 years were the largest segment of the oldest people in the past three decades. The highest percentage point increase was between 90 to 94 years, there was an increase in population for people of the age range. There was increase from 25 percent in 1990 to 26.4 percent in the year 2010.
Gender differences with ageThere are differences between aged men population and that of women in the US. If the report of 2000 and 2010 figures is anything to go by, then older women are far more than the elder men in the country are. They outnumbered them in every single age year considered such as sixty-five years and above that figure. Working the age differences is not difficult, it is a question of checking the sex ratio. This will indicate the balance that exists between males to females in any population and multiply by 100. This means that the sex ratio of any population is the number of male to 100 females of that population. By the last population census of 2010, sex ratio for sixty-five years and above is 90.5 males to 100 females. The number of older women is always more than other older men in the US.
Geographic distribution of older people in America
The number as well as the percentage of people aged sixty-five years and above is not the same across the four regions of the country.
Last population census in the country indicated that the south has more aged people between 65 and above than other regions of the country. However, in terms of concentration, the Northeast has the highest of that concentration of people aged 65 years and above. They have 11.9 percent, and followed by Midwest 13.5 percent, south 13 percent, and the west has the least of 11.9 percent.
Biogerontology is the part of gerontology concerned with the study of the biological aging process. It covers such areas like the evolutionary origin, as well as the potential means of intervening in the process. Normally, it concerns interdisciplinary research on such areas like the biological aging causes, as well as the effects and the mechanism.
Social gerontology on the other hand is another multi-disciplinary subfield. This has to do with working with those older people as well as studying them. The training work covers nursing, social work, sociology, psychology, as well as demography and public health and so on. These professionals are responsible for the broader study of older people and there are lots of social gerontology theories that guide their work.
This is another aspect of gerontology. The aim of the multidisciplinary approach to aging tries to understand, know the means of analysis, to opportunity to modify, as well as interventions, which optimize those relationships existing between the aging people to their social and physical environment. As said before this is a multidisciplinary approach. It optimizes the relationship that exists between the aging person, as well as their social and physical environment with the aim of attaining their goals in life.
This field of gerontology started in the thirties, when studies emerged as to the causes of behaviors of such people as they advance in age. The aim was to understand those social and environmental factors that affected aged people in the US. Theories continued to emerge up to 1970, as well as the 1980s and years after that.
The major aim of environmental theories about gerontology seeks to know those socio spatial implications about aging as well as the complex relationship that exists between them and the environment. As other fields of study are showing interest in gerontology, it is expected that there will be more studies to explain the social and environmental factors that affect aging.