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February 13, 2008

Medical Challenges of Improving the Quality of a Longer Life

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Geriatrics and Rehabilitation, University of Geneva, Thônex-Geneva, Switzerland (Dr Michel); Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England (Drs Newton and Kirkwood).

JAMA. 2008;299(6):688-690. doi:10.1001/jama.299.6.688

When geriatricians and gerontologist researchers consider the health challenges that will affect the global population in coming decades, their reactions most often combine alarm with a determination for action.1 Based on current demographic forecasts and the age-incidence patterns of major age-related diseases,2 the prospects for greatly increased prevalence of age-related frailty and disability can even induce despair. However, in addition to the continuing trend toward increased life expectancy, emerging indications, informed by recent scientific advances, suggest that some of the more daunting challenges might be met by a preventive life-course perspective that extends from conception through extreme old age.