Gerontology is a fascinating and rapidly evolving field.  Gerontology is the scientific study of aging and its impact on individuals, communities, and societies. It is a multidisciplinary field such as biology, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. 


Gerontology is a new field in the 20th century. The earliest references to aging can be found in ancient texts such as the Bible and writings of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle.


The term “gerontology”  was coined in 1900s by Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian biologist – Father of gerontology. Focused on biological aspects of aging, biological mechanisms of aging, Interventions to slow down or reverse aging process.

Psychological aspect of gerontology is important as it focuses on mental and emotional well-being of older adults. Connection between gerontology and psychology of older age becomes evident.

Main goal of gerontology to promote healthy aging and improve quality life of older adults

  • maintaining physical and mental health 
  • social support and connections
  • engaging in meaningful activities 


Theories of Aging:- 

  1. Programmed Aging Theory:- 

Aging is a genetically programmed predetermined by the individual’s DNA.

2. Damage of Error Theory:- 

Aging is a result of accumulated damage or errors in cellular processes. Caused by exposure to radiation, environmental toxins and metabolic process. Damages accumulates to leading to loss of cellular function. 

3. Evolutionary Theory:- 

Aging is an adaption evolved overtime. Aging result between reproduction and survival. Aging is a complex process influenced by multiple factors — genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors. 


Demographic Trends in Aging:- 

Refer to patterns and change in age of structure of populations over time. People aged 60 and over projected to reach 22% by 2050, 12% in 2020.


A shrinking workforce may lead to decreased productivity and increased labor costs. 


Biological and Psychological Changed with Aging:- 

As individuals age, they experience range of biological and psychological changes that impact physical health, cognitive function, emotional well being and social relationships.


Biological Changes:- 

Body is structure, function, and metabolism. Aging process lead to decrease in muscle mass and strength, a decrease in bone density, a decline in immune system’s function. Makes older people suspecitible to illness, infections, and chronic diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Aging process can also impact cognitive function. Decline in memory, attention and processing speed.


Psychological Changes:- 

Emotional regulation, coping strategies, and social relationships, loneliness, depression/anxiety, retirement. loss of loved ones or declining health. 

Social Relationship – Changes in nature and limitations, fewer opportunities for social interactions. Physical limitations, fewer opportunities for social engagement. 

Social engagement is crucial for maintaining physical/mental health. 


Current issues/Challenges in Gerontology Age-Related Illness:- 

Gerontology is increasing of age-related illness and chronic diseases.

Another challenge in gerontology is social isolation and loneliness. 

Financial security:- 

Living in fixed incomes. Increased stress and anxiety. 



Lead to discrimination and stigima; leading to negative health outcomes.

Common Sterotypes of Old People:- 

  • Fraglity:-

People are weak, frail, and in need of constant care.

  • Cognitive Decline:- 

Forgetful, slow and difficulty learning new things

  • Dependence:- 

Depend on others and unable to care for themselves.

  • Lack of Adaptability:- 

Resistant to change, unable to adopt to adapt new situations.

  • Invisibility:- 

Invisible, Irrelevant, and not valued in society.


Cognitive/Psychological Development in Older Age:- 

As we age, our cognitive abilities begin to decline. Decline in progressing speed, attention and memory.

Memory is one of cognitive functions that declines with age. 

Attention is another cognitive function that can be affected by age.

Perception is also affected by age.

Memory, attention, and perception are 3 essential cognitive functions.

Memory:-  Encode, store, and retreieve information. Episodic memory which involves remembering specific events.

Working memory which is involved in holding information in mind for a short period.

Cognitive  – changes associated with aging 

Attention – crucial cognitive function that allows us to focus on relevant information and filter out distractions. 

Perception – is a process of interpreting sensory information. 


Personality/Emotional Changes:-

Personality refers to patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Old people become agreeable and less neurotic. Agreeableness — kindness, empathy and cooperation.  Neuroticism — anxiety, worry, and emotional instability 

Emotional Changes:- 

Fewer negative emotions — anger and anxiety. 

Depression and Anxiety:- 

Depression is common. Symptoms of depression in old people are feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, change in appetite or sleep pattern. Anxiety is common in old people for health concerns, financial stress or social isolation.

  • staying socially connected 
  • engaging in physical activity 
  • healthy diet 
  • mental  health professional 


End of Life Issues:- 

Memory-Related Issues:- 

Common in old people. Memory-related issues can be severe conditions as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia.


Physical Changes and Health Conditions Associated with Aging:- 

Age:-  associated memory impairment is common in old people, affecting their ability to remember names, faces, and details. This condition is a normal part of aging. If memory loss becomes more severe. An indicative of MCI. MCI is decline in cognitive function. Individuals with MCI – memory loss, difficulty with language, attention and decision-making.

Learning disabilities:-  are conditions that affect an individual’s ability to acquire, process or retain information.


Chronic Diseases:-

  1. Musculosketal  Disorders:-

A group of conditions that affect bones, joints and muscles. They include 3 disorders.

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis 



Degenerative joint disease that cause pain and stiffness in joints. Risks are age, obesity, joint injuries, and genetic factors. 

Symptoms are joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. 

Treatment – exercise, weight management, medication management and physical therapy. 



Bones become weak/brittle, increasing risk of fractures. Caused by a loss of bone density due to age, hormone changes, lack of vitamin D and calcium. 

Risk factors are age, gender, family history and low calcium intake. 

Treatment – regular exercise, healthy diet. medication management and fall prevention strategies. 


Rheumatoid Arthritis:- 

Autoimmune disorder causes inflammation, pain, and swelling. Immune system attacks synovium, lining of joints. 

Risks are age, gender, family history and smoking. 

Symptoms are joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. 

Treatment – Medication management, physical therapy and surgery. 


Alzheimer’s Disease:- 

Alzheimer and Dementia are group of disorders. Alzheimer’s disease is common type of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all cases. Caused by a build up of beta-amyloid plaques and tan protein tangles in brain leading to destruction of brain cells and breakdown of communication between brain cells. Other forms of dementia include vascular dementia, caused by a lack of blood flow to brain and dementia with lewy bodies, caused by buildup of abnormal deposits in brain.

Cataracts are cloudy areas that form on lens of eye which cause vision to become blurry or distorted.


Communication during the End of Life:- 

Speech problems lead to ineffective communication resulting in feelings of isolation, depression and loss of control.

Communication is a 2 way process, and effective communication is important as it allows us to learn about an individual and allows them to convey their thoughts and wishes. Speech is a reflection of personality — who an individual is, where they originate from, what they like, what is important for them. 

The mental capacity of a person is the mental ability to make a particular decision.

Early changes in communication should trigger preparation for future involvement of speech and language therapist.

Speech problems can be ticipated in neurological problems.


Mental Health in Old Age:- 

Substance use — Alcohol misuse can increase risk of mental health issues. 

Depression is common in old people. Categorized as mild or severe.

Mild depression in old people  known as dsythmia:- 

  • Feeling sad/hopeless 
  • Loss of interest in activities 
  • Changes in appetite or weight 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Lack of energy/fatigue 
  • Difficulty concentrating 


Severe depression in old people known as major depression:- 

  • Thoughts of suicide/self-harm 
  • Difficulty with daily tasks 
  • Psychomotar retardation 
  • Psychomotar agitation 
  • Delusions or hallcuinations 


Fear of Dying:- (Death Anxiety)

Fear of Dying – Death Anxiety. Death anxiety is a complex psychological phenomenon. 


Nutrition and Aging:- 

  1. Calcium – strong bones  — (Dairy products. leafy green vegetables and fortified cereals)

2. Vitamin D — fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods.

3. Omega-3 fatty acid — fatty fish, walnuts and flax seeds.

Fiber is important for digestive health, reducing risk of heart diseases. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.


Exercise and Aging:- 

  • Maintaining muscle mass and strength
  • Reducing Chronic disease
  • Improving balance and flexibility
  • Reduce risk of falls.
  • Improving cognitive function
  • Reducing depression and anxiety


Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep in which old people face. 

Sleep Apnea is condition where breathing is disrupted during sleep. 


Spiritual pain in linked with psychological and physical pain. Old people turn to spirituality when they come to the end of life preparing their souls to meet the Heavenly Creator up there. They feel much peace when they attain to spirituality. 



Leave a Reply