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Healthy Aging— What is “Normal”?. Suzanne R. Kunkel Kathryn B. McGrew Scripps Gerontology Center Miami University Oxford, Ohio. What we’ll cover:. Physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of healthy aging

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Healthy aging what is normal

Healthy Aging—What is “Normal”?

Suzanne R. Kunkel

Kathryn B. McGrew

Scripps Gerontology Center

Miami University

Oxford, Ohio


What we ll cover
What we’ll cover:

  • Physical, psychological, social, and spiritual dimensions of healthy aging

  • Defining “normal” aging: when are declines to disease, and not age “alone?”

  • When and how does the difference matter?

  • The good news about aging

  • Importance of professional, family, and community care and support.


Holistic healthy aging
Holistic Healthy Aging

  • Physical

    • Cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, lung capacity, metabolism, senses, cognitive,* “surface” aging

  • Psychological

    • Emotional, cognitive*

  • Social

    • Engagement in family and community life

  • Spiritual


Holistic health aging
Holistic Health Aging

Source: National Institutes of Health, PubMed Central http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1661594&rendertype=figure&id=F1


Age as a risk factor not a cause
Age as a risk factor, not a cause.

  • Aging changes

  • Disease

  • Trauma, external conditions and events

  • Treatment effects (e.g. medications)

  • A combination


Normal aging
“Normal” aging?

  • Hard to separate age-related changes from disease-related changes

  • A fuzzy line

  • Declines may be due to

    • Age

    • Disease

    • Trauma, including accumulation of trauma

    • Treatment effects (e.g. medications)

    • A combination

  • Hearing as an example


Examples of declines we think are at least in part normal aging
Examples of declines we think are, at least in part, “normal” aging:

  • Gray hair

  • Loss of skin elasticity, e.g. wrinkles: (affects other organs as well)

  • Reduced lung and heart capacity

  • Reduced bone density

  • Hearing declines

  • Vision declines

  • Some cognitive changes, e.g. learning speed


Age vs disease does the difference matter
“Age vs. disease”: Does the difference matter? “normal” aging:

  • Changes matter….

    • when they interfere with daily activities

    • when they interfere with social roles

    • when they interfere with quality of life and general well-being

      ….whether they are “normal” aging or not

  • Examples?


Good news about aging

Increases in life expectancy “normal” aging:

Increases in healthy life expectancy?

Good news about aging….

Source: Geriatric Times November/December 2001 Vol. II Issue 6


Since 1973
Since 1973…. “normal” aging:

  • Deaths due to accidental injuries declined by 60%

  • Maternal deaths declined by 64%

  • Infant deaths declined by 66%

  • Tuberculosis declined over 80%

  • An Indian child born today has a life expectancy of 75 years, due mainly to reduction in these rates

Source: Dr. Charles W. Grim, D.D.S., M.H.S.A., Assistant Surgeon General

Director, Indian Health Service, August 1, 2006

http://www.ihs.gov/PublicInfo/PublicAffairs/Director/2006_Statements/CHR_text.pdf


Concerns remain for example diabetes
Concerns remain, “normal” aging:for example…Diabetes


Elders can modify both normal changes and disease
Elders can “normal” aging:modify both “normal” changes and disease

  • Building strength through exercise, conditioning, and diet

  • Eliminating complicating risk factors

    • Substance abuse

    • Obesity

    • Smoking

  • Examples?


Some diseases can be prevented
Some diseases can be “normal” aging:prevented.

  • Vaccinations

  • Health screenings

  • Diet

  • Non smoking

  • Moderate alcohol use

  • Exercise

  • Falls/accident prevention

  • Sanitation

  • Environmental health

  • Examples?


Most diseases can be treated
Most diseases can be “normal” aging:treated.

  • Medications

  • Diet and exercise regimens

  • Surgeries

  • Traditional medicine

  • Examples?


Chronic diseases can be managed
Chronic diseases can be “normal” aging:managed.

  • Managing treatment and lifestyle

  • Chronic disease self-management

  • Disease management education and intervention programs

  • Examples?


Elders can adapt to both normal changes and disease
Elders can “normal” aging:adapt to both “normal” changes and disease

  • Changing expectations

  • Adjusting daily activities

  • Using assistive devices

  • Self care

  • Relying on family care and assistance

  • Relying on services

  • Examples?


Whether normal aging or disease care and support are important
Whether “normal” aging or disease, “normal” aging:care and supportare important.

  • Family: the backbone of elder care

  • Community: the backup of elder care; includes elder services

  • Professional: trained care and support

  • Examples?


Thank you
Thank you…. “normal” aging:

Suzanne Kunkel: [email protected] 513-529-2914

Kathryn McGrew: [email protected] 513-529-3880


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