Understanding Ageing: Biological And Social Constructions

Joanna Elizabeth Latimer, Lynne Cox, Terence Davis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we discuss how social and biological studies of ageing
can converge to provide a meaningful framework for progress in both
understanding ageing and dealing with it in a positive manner. We start
by discussing the meaning of the term ‘ageing’ and how it is in part
defined by social context, and then, how psychosocial factors have an
impact on both perception and the biological reality of ageing. From
a theoretical perspective, we assess how ageing might have evolved,
and how it is measured. The biological impacts of ageing are then
described, moving from individual cells through tissues to major organ
systems (immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems).
What causes individual cells of the body to age is dealt with at both
a cellular and molecular level, and we further discuss how studies of
both extremely long-lived and short-lived humans have contributed
significantly not only to our understanding of the biological processes
of ageing, but also to the possibility of developing therapies to deal
with the problems that cause greatest loss of quality of life in older age.
We end by assessing the ethical case for intervening in those biological
processes underpinning the development of those illnesses that so
undermine health in later life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe New Sciences of Ageing
EditorsAlan Walker
Place of PublicationBristol
ISBN (Print)978-1447314677
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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