Bringing into the debate the issue of aging and practices to maintain quality of life at an advanced age is fundamental when it comes to thinking about a long-lived and prosperous society. In this sense, there are two terms that are becoming more and more common: geriatrics and gerontology.
Geriatrics and Gerontology
What is geriatrics?
Geriatrics is the branch of medicine that is dedicated, above all, to the study of the elderly and the aging process.patient, risk factors, pre-existing diseases, sleep quality, diet, cognition, functionality, and psychological and social aspects.
"Basically, there are three reasons that lead an individual to a geriatric consultation", explains Ana Laura, professor of Medicine at the João Pessoa University Center - Unipê: "First, prevention: guidance on how to grow old in a healthy way.such as neoplasms and infectious diseases, by updating the vaccination schedule, for example."
The third reason, according to the professor, is the monitoring of frequent diseases in this phase of life, such as dementia, osteoarticular diseases (like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis), hypertension, diabetes, and others.
Geriatrics is associated with the medical specialty that deals with the curative and care aspects of old age. Thus, most patients in geriatric consultations are people over 60 with pathological conditions.
"However, geriatrics also has a preventive and health promotion approach. Since the aging process begins decades before the age of 60 (the age at which an adult is considered an elderly person in Brazil), the individual can start his geriatric follow-up around the fourth decade of life, with a focus on promoting healthy aging," he says.
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What is gerontology?
On the other hand, gerontology is the study of aging. Thus, it represents a broad disciplinary and professional field, of inter and multidisciplinary training, with a multidimensional character. Thus, it addresses several issues related to the elderly, old age, and aging.
"Currently, it can be understood as an area of scientific knowledge, the science of aging," explains Ana. "The formation in gerontology can be in Undergraduate (Bachelor in Gerontology) or Postgraduate. In addition, it has higher education in several areas of knowledge, both in health (Nutrition, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy) and other areas(Psychology, Social Work, Law, etc.)."
The main goals of gerontology are the description and explanation of the aging process in its various aspects. This happens through the study of older people, the characteristics of old age, the aging process, and its biopsychosocial determinants.
The interdisciplinary action allows gerontologists to offer integral assistance to the elderly, in addition to stimulating research and transmitting knowledge about the aging phenomenon.
"Due to the peculiarities of the elderly, it is necessary to provide holistic care to these individuals, recommending that the work should no longer be centered on a single professional but rather performed with greater competence by a group of professionals, each responsible for a specific area of knowledge", continues the professor.gerontology whenever there are specific needs of each affected dimension."
Source: Ana Laura, professor of Medicine at the João Pessoa University Center - Unipê