Thanks to enormous advances in public health and exciting breakthroughs in medical innovation, over the past century Americans have seen dramatic gains in health and longevity. The United States currently spends more on health care than any other nation and for most people, this means access to one of the best health care systems in the world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t benefit all people equally and the reality is that most minorities have less access to care, fewer options for prevention and treatment, and higher rates of disease and illness.
At some point in our lives, most of us will face an illness where we have to deal with many different health care professionals—often spread out in different locations and settings across the health care system. Our primary physician may refer us to a specialist, or we may have an emergency that sends us to the ER and later requires that we be admitted to the hospital or see our primary physician for follow-up. We may even have to move from the hospital to a rehabilitation or long-term care facility.
Investigators supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are on the cusp of research breakthroughs that may enhance their ability to predict and intervene earlier in the processes of many age-related chronic diseases.
At 79 years old, Alice Thomas is definitely not your traditional law student, but all her life she’s walked a fairly non-traditional path. Leaving home at just 16 years old, Thomas worked a variety of jobs to support herself including a drug-store waitress, a typist, and even an elevator operator. She eventually found herself in the construction industry despite the fact that it was and continues to be a “man’s world.”
How exactly does one define aging research? It turns out that finding agreement on a single definition is not as easy as it seems.
If you do an Internet search for the terms “aging research” you’ll get a feel for just how confusing it can get. Your search should turn up close to 9.5 million results—including organizations, articles, speeches, blog posts, and experts. You will find that many of these sources have a different idea of what exactly aging research is—although very few will bother to define it themselves. This isn’t that surprising if you consider how young this field of research is and how much public perception plays a role in the way it’s defined. It understandably proves difficult to define it and put it in a neat box.