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see geriatricsgeriatrics
, the branch of medicine concerned with conditions and diseases of the aged. Many disabilities in old age are caused by or related to the deterioration of the circulatory system (see arteriosclerosis), e.g.
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the study of AGEINGand of elderly people. It focuses on the societal consequences of a rising proportion of older people in the population, the personal experience of ageing, particularly in societies where youthfulness is prized, and also the social status of older people. Issues of current sociological debate are the degree to which the problems associated with old age are socially produced through ageist ideologies which deny status and resources to older people and result in enforced dependency through retirement and inadequate social services; historically and culturally, comparative studies of the social status of older age groups; the systems of social classification which overlie chronological ageing. An emerging issue is the frequent invisibility of age as a theoretical issue for sociology in the same way that gender was until recently. see also OLD AGE.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a division of medicobiological science that studies the phenomena of aging in living organisms, including man. The subdivisions of gerontology are geriatrics (the study of the diseases of the senescent organism), geriatric hygienics (the study of the hygiene of the elderly), and gerontological psychology.

The study of gerontology was developed with the essential changes in man’s life expectancy. In Europe, for example, the average life expectancy was 38.7 years in 1890 but approximately 70 years in 1970. In the USSR, the period 1917-70 showed an increase from 32 to 71 years in average life expectancy. This increase is primarily a reflection of the decreased incidence of death from infectious disease and the reduction of the rate of infant mortality.

A number of theories of aging have been advanced since the beginning of the 20th century. According to the theory of E. Metchnikoff (1908), aging is the result of intoxication of the organism by products of the metabolism of the bacteria that inhabit the intestinal tract, and by products, such as uric acid, of the nitrogenous metabolism of the organism itself. The Czech biologist V. Ruzicka suggested that gelation, or protoplasmic condensation, lies at the basis of aging. The Soviet scientists V. V. Alpatov and O. K. Nastiukova maintained that aging amounted to a reduction of enzyme activity.

Modern gerontology studies the mechanisms and causes of aging on all levels—from the molecular and cellular to the level of the organism as a whole. Special attention is given to the role of the processes of nervous regulation. These studies have led to the development of research in the field of geriatrics—the study of aspects of the development, course, treatment, and prevention of diseases in the elderly. The increasing use made by the elderly of medical institutions gave rise to new tasks for practical public health services, which has led to the creation within a number of clinical specialties of a geriatrics division. This has occurred most notably in the fields of therapy, psychiatry, surgery, and phthisiology.

The development of gerontology has taken three basic directions: experimental, clinical, and social. Gerontological research makes use of clinical, biological, biochemical, biophysical, and physiological methods. Scientific research in the social-hygiene aspects of gerontology is directed toward study of the causes of the connection between premature aging and social conditions or way of life, as well as toward finding the most effective organization of labor, diet, and motor activity among the elderly. More rational forms of social and medical care are also being investigated.

The development of gerontology in Russia began at the end of the 19th century and is associated with names such as E. Metchnikoff, S. P. Botkin, I. P. Pavlov, M. S. Mil’man, A. V, Nagornyi, N. D. Strazhesko, and Z. G. Frenkel’. The world’s first conference on the problem of old age and the prevention of premature aging was held in Kiev in 1938 at the initiative of A. A. Bogomolets. The Institute of Gerontology of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR was founded in 1958 to organize and coordinate all research in gerontology. Solutions to the problems of gerontology are being sought abroad by the Institute of Geriatrics in Bucharest, university medical clinics in Berlin and Leipzig, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences in the USA. In the Soviet Union, the All-Union Scientific Medical Society of Gerontologists and Geriatrists was organized in 1963, and in 1966 it joined the International Association of Gerontology. More than 20 journals in Europe, the USA, and the USSR, including the Soviet annual Gerontologiia i geriatriia, deal with the problems of gerontology.


Davydovskii, I. V. Gerontologiia. Moscow, 1966.
Osnovy gerontologii. Edited by D. F. Chebotarev, N. B. Man’kovskii, and V. V. Frol’kis. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The scientific study of aging processes in biological systems, particularly in humans.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the scientific study of ageing and the problems associated with elderly people
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
This is exactly where gerontologists come in with their specialist training and education to help elders adjust to their changing lives and ensure their well-being.
"A gerontologist worth anything in a specific city will know those facilities."
Although Frank Congemi, a registered Financial gerontologist in Forest Hills, N.Y., and Deerfield Beach, Fla., believes the Web is an essential tool for relationship building and helping clients locate advisers, he said it's not for everyone.
The mystique of living to be 100 will be lost by the year 2020 as 100th birthdays become commonplace, predicts Mike Parker, assistant professor of social work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and a gerontologist specializing in successful aging.
Goode, a gerontologist who is the medical director of the continence program at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.
And then, from his experience as a gerontologist, he offered the following interpretation of my hapless condition: "You're not depressed," he said.
Noted gerontologist Ken Dychtwald brought his road show to Madison Avenue last week, not as a preacher for the 50-plus set this time but as the publisher of a national monthly magazine with 47 local editions.
Dorothy Fabian, Ed.D., a research gerontologist associated with the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City, describes the lessening functions to which the aging are prone: "Although all of these ailments depend to an extent upon genetic inheritance and may occur at any age to a greater or lesser degree, the most common manifestations are reduced flexibility, slower reflexes, shortness of breath, changes in balance, and discomfort or pain in joints.
Anderson, and Priscilla Walls, "The Investigation and Outcome of Reported Cases of Elder Abuse," The Gerontologist 34 (1994): 123-125.
MONDAY, July 2, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Socioeconomic factors may hinder individuals' ability to obtain and use hearing aids, according to a study published online May 21 in The Gerontologist.
(Gerontologist Tom Perls has estimated that the rate of aging is 50 to 75% determined by nongenetic factors.) The research team from the University of North Carolina plans to further study the effects of gerontogens via a novel mouse model.
Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist in Cornell University's College of Human Ecology, spent last three years surveying over 800 older people about love, relationships and marriage.