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Medical Terms Related to Aging

Medical Terms Related to Aging
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  • 0:01 Growing Older
  • 0:35 Gerontology & Geriatrics
  • 2:29 Geriatrician & Gerontologist
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Do you know what to expect in old age? This lesson briefly goes over the problems associated with old age with a few examples and defines several terms related to old age: gerontology, geriatrics, gerontologist, and geriatrician.

Growing Older

As I was about to sit to write this lesson, I was going to complain how there's nothing to look forward to in old age but death and disease. And then, I found an anonymous quote that kind of hit home: Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.

Those lucky enough, in a sense, to grow older will nevertheless face many challenges, many of those being health-related. Old age isn't a disease. But many diseases come with old age.

Thankfully, there is an entire field devoted to old age. That field and its related terms will be defined shortly.

Gerontology & Geriatrics

The scientific study of the biological, psychological, economical, and sociological aspects associated with aging is called gerontology. And so, gerontology encompasses geriatrics, the branch of medicine that deals with diagnosing and treating diseases and disorders affecting the elderly.

These words comes from gero- or geront/o-, which means old age or the aged. -ology, in gerontology, is a suffix that denotes the science or study of something, like biology, physiology, anthropology and so forth. -iatrics, the suffix in geriatrics, denotes medical treatment, similarly to pediatrics.

Aging is a normal process, whether we like it or not. And as we age, our body's ability to fight off infectious organisms or to face the progressive degenerative changes associated with many years of using our body's resources declines.

Take, for example, Michael. Michael was a sprightly football player in his youth. He used to run around faster than light itself! He'd also get tackled quite a bit. Over the years, his body got beat up, and now he's suffering from arthritis, which comes from many years of beating up on his joints. And so Michael has a bit of a limp nowadays and serious lower back pain.

Julie has memory problems in her old age. And, these problems may stem from many causes, but suffice it to say, her brain cells, like the rest of her body, decline in function over time as they build up waste products and are unable to repair themselves as well as a young brain cell can.

Similarly, Robert is suffering from the flu right now. This may not be a big problem for a 20-something, but at the ripe age of 90, Robert's immune system isn't as strong as it used to be, and a 'simple' flu can turn into a deadly case of pneumonia.

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