Health Care in the 21st Century: The Social and Ethical Context

  • James E. Birren
Conference paper


Predictions about the health of the aged have not been noted for their accuracy. The current level of public interest in measures that promote well-being will influence the health of future older persons and the kind of care they will need. In the past, diagnosticians were taught to seek a single primary diagnosis for an illness. The chronic diseases of the aged are less the manifestations of invasions by foreign agents than manifestations of a changing host. In the phase of terminal decline, self-regulation breaks down, and energy and information must flow into the individual in order to reestablish an equilibrium. Studies of the physiology of aging must embrace the ecology of individuals. This is supported by the fact that there is a large increase in mortality rates associated with bereavement. A greater integration of our specialized disciplinary bodies of knowledge about aging will be required to develop new treatment methods for our future older population.


Normal Aging Foreign Agent Nursing Home Care Pathological Aging Ethical Context 
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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1985

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  • James E. Birren

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