4 Neural ageing
The second topic in this course concerns neural ageing – remember the term ‘neural ageing’ is used to mean ageing as it impacts upon the nervous system and behaviour, not the ageing of other body systems or organs. So how and why does neural ageing occur? Can we postpone it? Is it possible to improve the quality of life of older adults? These are just a few of the questions that arise in the study of ageing and which are of concern to a society where there is an increasing number of older adults (people over 65) in the population. Ageing of the human population is not limited to only some nations or some regions. Rather, it is a global phenomenon, which affects all countries and all people. New medical discoveries, improved healthcare delivery and the currently declining birth rate in industrially developed countries, have resulted in older adults constituting an ever-increasing proportion of the total population. Although the presence of so many older adults – and the potential for so many more – represents a human triumph over disease, it also presents a challenge to society. Therefore, the recent scientific progress in understanding the fundamental biological processes of ageing is well-timed to address the growing problems of adjusting to, and caring for, the increasing numbers of older adults in the population.