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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

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?
  • 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

Increases in healthy life expectancy?

Good news about aging….

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

since 1973
Since 1973….
  • 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

elders can modify both normal changes and disease
Elders can 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 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 treated.
  • Medications
  • Diet and exercise regimens
  • Surgeries
  • Traditional medicine
  • Examples?
chronic diseases can be managed
Chronic diseases can be 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 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, 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….

Suzanne Kunkel: 513-529-2914

Kathryn McGrew: 513-529-3880