Geroscience – The Key to a Better Old Age?

The worldwide population is aging and older adults, while often living longer and in better health than their parents and grandparents, are also more likely to be diagnosed with one or more chronic illness that affects quality of life, independence and health care costs.  Until recently, the effects the aging process has on various diseases has not been studied in depth. 

The United States National Institute on Aging is using geroscience to better understand how aging affects the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanism that lead to diseases common among older adults.   Age is a risk factor for many diseases and conditions including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis and frailty.  By better understanding how age affects health and chronic illness, researchers hope to discover the means to improve the prevention and treatment of these diseases experienced by many older adults. 

Although medical advances may extend life, many elderly adults are living with chronic illness that leads to disability and a poorer quality of life.  By stepping up geroscientific research, stakeholders hope to take a more wholistic approach in learning how diseases and aging affect the entire body.  Finding ways to slow the rate of aging would, in turn, help older adults preserve their physical and cognitive function as they age, allow seniors to remain active and independent longer; in short experience a better old age.

Already over the past 10 to 20 years, research focusing on the molecular and cellular level, has led to the development of ideas involved in the aging process such as free radical damage, how caloric restriction may slow aging and cell senescence.  The concept of geoscience has contributed to advances in aging research that one day is hoped to reduce the suffering and costs associated with living into very old age. 

Learn more about the future of geroscience by following this link to a recent article in the Journals of Gerontology.