Healthy Aging: Lessons from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Agingby National Institute on Aging
There is still much to learn, but so far two major conclusions can be drawn from BLSA data. First, “normal” aging can be distinguished from disease. Although people’s bodies change and can in some ways decline over time, these changes do not inevitably lead to
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The study was the first to ask a most basic question: What is normal aging?
There is still much to learn, but so far two major conclusions can be drawn from BLSA data. First, “normal” aging can be distinguished from disease. Although people’s bodies change and can in some ways decline over time, these changes do not inevitably lead to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, or dementia. A number of disorders that typically occur in old age are a result of disease processes, not normal aging.
Second, no single, chronological timetable of human aging exists. We all age differently. In fact, in terms of change and development, there are more differences among older people than among younger people. Genetics, lifestyle, and disease processes affect the rate of aging between and within all individuals.
These fundamental changes in our thinking about age and disease have led the BLSA and the field of aging research in important new directions. As we further pinpoint the influences on how we age, we can also think about new and more effective interventions that may prevent disease and promote healthy aging.
This booklet was developed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the BLSA and the wealth of data and insights it has given us. It also provides an occasion to share some of what we know about aging and aging well from a large body of research, including the BLSA. As you read through this booklet, you will find it useful in thinking about your own aging and steps you can take that might make a difference for maintaining your health.
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