In Gerontology 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

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- A -


Transmitters in areas of the brain involved in memory function. They are markedly decreased in Alzheimer's patients

Active life expectancy

Activities of Daily Living

Activity Theory
No process within society that mandates the withdrawal of the older individual from social activity at large.

Advance Directive

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967


Age Pigment Theory

The process of growing old regardless of chronilogical age.

Aging Grading

Aging in Place

Alexis Carrel

Alzheimer's Disease

American Association of Retired Persons

Represent a change in male hormonal balance.

Antagonistic Pleiotropy

A specialized group of proteins which work to ward off infections and invasions by foreign substances.

Proteins and other molecules that defend agains free radicals.


The loss of the ability to use language (spoken and written).

Programmed cell death, cell suicide.

Vascular degeneration that causes thickening and loss of resiliency of the arterial wall.


Assisted Care

Assisted Living Facility (ALF)

Assisted Suicide

Specific type of arteriosclerosis. Characterized by an accumulation of connective tissue and fatty streaks in the arterial walls.

Average Lifespan
The average of individual lifespans for members of a cohort.

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- B -

Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common form of skin cancer.

Basal Metabolic Rate

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Grief experienced by loss of a loved one due to death.


Big Five

The study of biological processes giving rise to old age.

Birth Cohort
To identify individuals born in the same year or the same common psychosocial events

Birth Rate

Birth Rate and Fecundity

Body Weight

Brain Weight

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Caloric Restriction
Process of reducing caloric intake in order to increase the lifespan of a given species.

Conducted experiments with cell doubling. Argued that cells were immortal; later proved wrong.

Cellular Theories of Aging
Theories which are based on changes that occur in structural and functional elements of cells with the passage of time.

Individuals 100 years of age and older

Center For Medicare and Medicaid Servcies (CMMS)/Health Care

Central Nervous System

Chronic Health Conditions


Chronological age
Age in years

Codon Restriction
Molecular theory of aging.

Cognitive disorders


Comfort (Alex)
Proponent of programmed aging theory. Death is intrinsic.

Concurrent health conditions. Occurs when an individual is affected by several diseases simultaneously

Compassionate Ageism

Compression of Morbidity
A shortening in the length of time between onset of disease and death.

Compression of Mortality

Congregate Housing

Cortical Bone
Outer layer of bone; dense and compact.

Cross-Linking Theory

Cross-Sectional Studies
Studies which compare characteristics among different age groups at one time.

Crystallized Intelligence
Form of mental ability that includes material learned over the total life span and includes verbal ability, verbal reasoning, problem solving, and basic knowledge of one's world.

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Death Rate

Defined Contribution plans
Employee has the major responsibility for how to plan for retirement.

Defined Pension Plan
Computed directly on sme stated combination of employee age, years on the job, and wage history.

Change in consciousness or cognitive ability with an acute onset.

Receptor membranes of neurons.

Global deterioration of intellectual and cognitive function. Characterized by defects in orientation, memory, intellect, judgement, and affect.

Demographic Transition
The shift from high fertility and high mortality to low fertility and low mortality. As a result of this shift, the population of older people within a general population increases.

Study of characteristics of a population.

Dependency ratio

State of mood characterized by emotional (affective), somatic (bodily or vegetative), and interpersonal distress.

Dermal Papilla

Diabetes Mellitus


Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy

Disengagement Theory
Mutual process of disengagement in activities expected by the individual and by society.

Disposable Soma Theory


Neurotransmitter associated with Parkinson's disease.


Durable Power of Attorney

Dysdifferentiation Theory

Difficulty in swallowing.

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Echoic Memory

Elder Fraud


Endocrine System

The study of characteristics of diseases and illnesses within a population.

Error Catastrophe Theory


Exchange Theory
Individual do not disengage, there is a process by which the activities of the individual change according to physical, mental, social, and financial resources.

Expenditure patterns

Extended family

Extrinsic aging theories

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- F -



Financing Administration (HCFA)

Fluid Intelligence
Represents the ability to perform novel tasks well or take order, well-established skills and use them to solve a new problem

Force of mortality
A number representing the likelihood that an individual of a given age will survive into some higher age bracket

Formal Support

Four-legged Chair of Income

Free Radical Theory

Free Radicals
Molecules (rarely occurring in nature) that contain one or more unpaired electrons. Result from breaks in chemical bonds. They combine rapidly with other free radicals. They are dangerous because: a) they attack other molecules indiscriminately, b) they produce oxygen consuming chain reactions, and c) they cause crosslinking of other molecules.

Compression of morbidity

Functional age
Ability of the individual to perform desired activities with ease and grace

Functional Health

Functional Mental Disorders

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- G -

Gender Gaps
Environmental and genetic factors cause females to live longer than males.

Gene Regulation

General Well-being
State of being or doing well in life.

The branch of medicine that deals with the problems and diseases associated with old age.

The study of aging and age-related processes and events.

Part of psychiatry that focuses on diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in the elderly.

Scientific field concerned with the multiple aspects of normal and abnormal changes in cognition, personality, well-being, and mental health that occur with aging in the later years of life.

Eye disease which damages optic nerve fibers. Results from an increase in intraocular pressure.


Grandparent role

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- H -

The time it takes the body to clear or eliminate half of the effective dosage from the blood.

Hayflick (Leonard)
Proved Carrel's argument for cell immortality wrong. Conducted experiments with cell doublings and found cells typically doubled 50 +/- 10 times.

Hayflick Limit
Cells double 50 +/- 10 times and then they die. Evidence that cells are not immortal.

Health Perception


Adjustments and adaptations to changes. The ability to maintain constant function.

Hutchinson-Guilford Disease
Infantile form of progeria syndrome. Associated with stunted growth, skin atrophy, and hypertension.

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Medically induced morbidity and/or mortality.

Iconic Memory

Idiosyncrasy credit

Immunologic Theory


Informal Care Networks

Informal Support

Informed Consent

In Vitro

In Vivo

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Intermediate Care

Inter-rater reliability

Internal consistency
The ability of a single dimensional assessment tool to assess a common pheonmenon

Intra-rater reliability

Intrinsic aging theories


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- L -


Learned Helplessness
A parallel concept to the social breakdown syndrome posit considerable responsibility on the individual

Level of Care Acute

Life Expectency
Average amount of life (time/years) for a cohort.


Life Satisfaction
A sense of well-being and may be assessed in terms of mood, satisfaction with relations with others and with achieved goals, self-concepts, and self-perceived ability to cope with daily life.


Living Will

Locus of Control
Individual's view of determinants of events.


Longitudinal Studies
Studies in which the same group of individuals are examined at regular intervals throughout a given time period.

Long-term Memory

Lung Vital Capacity

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- M -

Mandatory Retirement

Marital Roles

Marital Satisfaction
Across adult life span is most easily described by a U-shaped curve

Maximum Lifespan
The longest life of an individual of a certain species (current human maximum lifespan: 115-120).

The most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Multidimensional change in woman, the core feature of which is the end of menses with a concomitant decrease in estrogen and progesterone.

Metabolic Rate


Cell division.

Molecular Theories of Aging
Theories which revolve around the idea that all individuals within a species have a similar length of life and that individuals from different species have different lifespans.

Patterns of illness.

Modernization Theory
How societies evolve over time in the face of changing levels of technology and occupations.

Patterns of death.

Multigenerational Families
Several generations of the same family live together.

Multiple Infarct Senile Dementia

Multiple Jeopardy


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- N -

Near Poor
Identify those whose incomes or financial resources exceed current federal guidelines defining poverty but who have very limited economic resources.


Neuritic Plaques
Rare in normal aging but common in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

Neuroendocrine Theory

Neurofibrillary Tangles
Intracellular tangles masses of fibrous elements.


Normal Aging

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- O -

Objective Health


Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA)

Opitmal Arousal

Proponent of error catastrophe theory.

Orthostatic Hypotension

Non-systemic, degenerative joint disease which damages the cartilage.

Responsible for bone formation.

Responsible for bone resorption.

Disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue. Disease causes bone fragility and fractures.

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- P -

Perpsecutory delusion, and suspiciousness in the elderly often are seen in conjunction with onset and progression of dementia.

Parkinson's Disease

Inflammation of the peridontal membrane.


Person-Environment Congruence
Match of the older individual's abilities, needs, and interests with the physical and social/cultural environment.

The processes involved in the interaction between a drug and its effect on an organ.

The handling of a drug within the body, including its absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination.

Functions and vital processes of an organism, organs, or system of organs.

Physiological senescence

Preretirement Planning and Programs

Age-related changes in the perception of pain.

Age-related hearing loss. Progressive. Higher frequencies are lost first.

Age-related changes in taste.

Age-related changes in eyesight. The lens hardens and loses its ability to change shape and focus.


Pressure Sores (decubitus ulcers)

Primary aging

Private Pensions

Programmed aging
Basic processes of senescence are controlled at a preprogrammed level within cells

Projective Techniques
Pencil and paper inventories

Proprietary Homes Operated as a business for profit


Psychological age

Psychological Autopsy

Public nursing homes
Owned by the state or some local governmental agency

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- R -

Reaction Time

Recall And Recognition

The accuracy of measurement of the tool or instrument employed

Residual Volume

Respite Care


Retrospective Falsification

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Systemic disease of the peripheral joints which begins in the soft tissue lining of joints and is characterized by swelling, warmth, and tenderness.

Role Realignment

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- S -

Sandwich generation
Represents those who care not only for their own children but also act in a caregiver role for their own parent(s).


Mental illness associated with delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior; and loss of care or emotions about things that the individual found interesting and emotionally satisfying in the past.

Secondary aging

The condition of being old, state of old age characteristic of the later years of the lifespan. Senescence is universal, intrinsic, progressive, and deleterious.

Senile Macular Degeneration
The degeneration of the macula, which provides the structural basis for high visual acuity.

Cognitive changes often observed in older adults

Senior Power

A measure refers to its ability to identify

Short-term Memory

Social Breakdown Syndrome
Loss of self-esteem, increased dependence, increased passivity, and propensity to a sick role.

Social Security Act

Societal Support Ratio

Social Space

Sociological age

Somatic Mutation


Somatoform Disorders

A measure is its ability to exclude

Stages of Dying

Stages of Grief

Subjective Health

Substance Abuse

Successful Aging

Sun Downing
Agitated behavior and confusion during the later afternoon and early evening that is often seen in individuals with Azheimer's disease.

Superoxide Dismutase
Antioxidant enzyme.

Survival Curves



Systemic Level Theories of Aging
Includes neuroendocrine and immunologic

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- T -

Tail portion of chromosomes. They shrink and shed with each cell division. Their length gives some indication of the number of divisions a cell has undergone.

Terminal Drop
Changes that occur as individuals approach death

Three-legged Stool of Income
Income in the later years of life.

Trabecular Bone
Interior part of bone. It has a honeycomb structure and is spongy.

Enduring personality characteristic that remains stable with normal aging across the adult life span.

Trisomy 21

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- U -

Usual Life Expectancy

Usual Life Span

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- V -

The value of the measurement in the assessment of the thing we are trying to measure

Voluntary Nursing Homes
Not-for-profit and often are sponsored by churches and service organizations

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- W -

Walford (Roy)
Proponent of immune system theory.

Wear and Tear Theory

Werner's Disease
Adult form of progeria syndrome. Onset occurs between 20 and 30 years of age. Characterized by gray hair, rough skin, and problems with joints.

Working Memory

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- X -

Dry mouth due to decline in salivary secretion.

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- Z -

65 to 75 years of age

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Revised: April 16, 2003.
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