Developmental Aging Through the Cognitive Process

Aging is defined by the Merck Manual of Geriatrics as "a process of gradual and spontaneous change resulting in maturation through childhood, puberty, and young adulthood and then decline through middle and late age." Aging is a subject that affects the individual both in thought and fact with many mixed feelings and emotions. First there are positive aspects to the process of aging such as the gaining of wisdom and experience but there are those effects such as gray hair, baldness and memory loss that are negative in nature and not desired as that of experience for the human being. Senescence which is defined by Merck Manual of Geriatrics as "The process by which the capacity for cell division, growth, and function is lost over time, ultimately leading to an incompatibility with life, i.e. The process of senescence terminates in death," Merck states that the differentiation of that which is termed 'normal aging' and 'successful aging' is useful in defining certain aspects of the aging process. There may be other mechanisms involved in senescence other than telemetries shortening such as messenger RNA transfers from senescent cells in to younger cells effectuate the stopping of division in the younger cells. Many aspects of the aging process can be effectively dealt with in the initiative to keep the person who is older active and interested in life. However, without focus of activities and social interaction the elderly individual will become withdrawn and depressed.

Developmental Aging through the Cognitive Process

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to research aging from the aspect of cognitive development, which will include all aspect of adult development including theory and research. This work will be from the view of a cognitive cohorts aspect inclusive of case studies, which state that this is from both the male and female perspective. Phases of Development will be inclusive of mental, physical and emotional changes experienced by the aging individual. The three ranges covered in respect to developmental cohorts are those of Middle Age range 40-60 years of age, Older Mature Phase 60-80 years of age and Elder Range of ages 80 and beyond.

Introduction

Aging is defined by the Merck Manual of Geriatrics as "a process of gradual and spontaneous change resulting in maturation through childhood, puberty, and young adulthood and then decline through middle and late age." Aging is a subject that affects the individual both in thought and fact with many mixed feelings and emotions. First there are positive aspects to the process of aging such as the gaining of wisdom and experience but there are those effects such as gray hair, baldness and memory loss that are negative in nature and not desired as that of experience for the human being. Senescence which is defined by Merck Manual of Geriatrics as "The process by which the capacity for cell division, growth, and function is lost over time, ultimately leading to an incompatibility with life, i.e. The process of senescence terminates in death," Merck states that the differentiation of that which is termed 'normal aging' and 'successful aging' is useful in defining certain aspects of the aging process.

Normal aging is that which refers to the common factors, diseases as well as impairments characterizing the elderly population. It is important to note that the aging group of human beings age at different rates as well as acquiring different diseases and impairments and some remaining so healthy that when they do decease they can be said to have died of nothing other than simply "old age. Successful or Healthy Aging references a process "to a process by which deleterious effects are minimized, preserving function until senescence makes continued life impossible." (Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 2005) the stated concept of that referred to as successful aging." Successful aging then is the view that aging that is not accompanied by debilitating disease and disability. Although the percentage of persons and the proportion of the elderly have increased in the U.S. The number or percentage of elderly that reside in nursing home facilities has decreased by 5.2%.

A. Disease and Aging

Aging and senescence are both witness to a decline in physiological functions however normal decline is not thought of as anything other than a 'normal decline. Cognitive decline is said to be experienced on a 'universal' basis along with advanced age and is within the scope of normal aging but cognitive decline is stated to be 'consistent with dementia even though it is common in the later part of an individual's life. Alzheimer disease is a "pathological process distinct from normal aging, a conclusion that is supported through analysis of brain tissue at autopsy" (Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 2005)

B. Life Span

The life span refers to the average number of years that an individual is expected to live under normal conditions the maximum life span for women is sated to be approximately 125 years (Merck Manual of Geriatrics 2005) for women and somewhat shorter for men. The factors that affect longevity are stated to be hereditary aspects that are determinative in terms of the likelihood of an individual contracting disease or inheriting other medical conditions.

C. Molecular/Cellular Changes in Aging

Unless they become cancerous cells eventually lose the ability to divide which limits the replicative capacity of cells. Cells that have divided so many times that they are rendered unable to again divide will enlarge and exist for a while before dying. The reason for the cells becoming unable to divide themselves is understood within the explanation of the DNA process. DNA contains Telomeres at the end of chromosomes that serve as a sort of handle for the movement of chromosome during the telophase of meiosis. These telomeres are shortened each time the cell divides and when they become too short the cells lose the ability to divide. When the cells are transformed into cancerous type cells the enzyme telomeres lengthen are telophase and the telomeres of the cells that have been transformed do not any longer shorten at cell division making the cells immortal. (Merck Manual of Geriatrics).

There may be other mechanisms involved in senescence other than telemetries shortening such as messenger RNA transfers from senescent cells in to younger cells effectuate the stopping of division in the younger cells. Necrosis or apoptosis may also occur from cell death generally brought about because of chemical or physical insult as they "overwhelm normal cellular processes and make the cells become nonviable." (Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 2005)

Neocrosis is defined as a "purely entropic phenomenon due to loss of the cell's ability to transform external energy." (Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 2005) Apoptosis is defined as a "highly regulated and orderly process by which a cell effectively commits suicide." (Merck Manual of Geriatrics, 2005) Apoptosis is said to have been linked to several disease that are age-related such as Alzheimer's disease.

C. Aging Theories

Aging has many different variables and occurs at rates that are different among individuals and among species. Senescence is viewed by gerontologists as a "collection of degenerative entropic processes related only by the fact that the occurrence is over a period of time. One theory is the "Loose Cannon Theory" which proposes that an entropy-producing agent-free radical or glucose disrupts cellular macromolecular constituents over a period of time."

Another theory, the "Rate of Living Theory" proposes that smaller animals have higher metabolic rates and therefore tend to decease at a younger age than mammals that are larger. The "Weak Link Theory" proposes that a physiologic system which is specific to the neuroendocrine or immunological system is more so vulnerable during senescence and upon failing of this system speeds up the function of the entire body.

The "Error Catastrophe Theory" proposes that DNA or RNA errors of transcription lead to genetic-based errors that promote senescence and data suggests that organisms that are older have managed to altered proteins that reflects this type genetic changes.

The "Master Clock Theory" proposes that aging I under direct genetic control. This theory is said to be the oldest of all theories and is no longer considered a viable theory. The fact is that whatever actually controls the process of aging is as of yet unknown.

D. Accelerated Aging Diseases

Progeroid Syndromes are rare diseases which exhibit several features that are similar to the disease normally observed in the elderly population which include baldness, osteoporosis, as well as dry and wrinkled skin." Other syndromes are those as follows:

Werner's Syndrome -This syndrome produces sclerodermal skin changes as well as baldness. Also produced are premature cataracts, muscular atrophy, glucose intolerance, a high incidence of cancer and early death attributable to arteriosclerosis.

Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch Syndrome - Also produces premature scleroderma, baldness and other senile pathologies in children. The genetic basis is yet undetermined.

Hutchinson-Gilford Syndrome - Also produces premature scleroderma, baldness and other senile pathologies in children. The genetic basis is yet undetermined.

Down Syndrome - This syndrome is more commonplace that are the propertied syndromes. This syndrome also…