HON Dossier on Ageing

Ageing related diseases
     Alzheimer’s disease
     Parkinson disease
Ageing related diseases

    Alzheimer’s disease

    Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia among older people, is evidenced by a progressive, irreversible decline in mental functioning. The symptoms, including thinking, understanding, and decision-making impairment are followed by such behavioural alterations as agitation, aggression, depression, wandering, memory loss and decline in cognitive abilities.

    Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by the presence of intracellular and extracellular plaques composed of a protein fragment called beta amyloid. The exact role of these plaques in the disease process is not yet known but it is possible that they play an active role in neurons degeneration, in the loss cellular connections with other neurons and provoke neuronal death.

    A possible association between gene and Alzheimer's exists but environmental factors may also be responsible for the initiation of this disease.

    There are no known treatments or medications for curing this disease; however, clinical studies indicate a potential for delaying its onset or improving the functional ability of persons with it. For example, estrogen replacement may help slow the decline in memory in post-menopausal women.

    More information in many European languages is proposed in Alzheimer Europe.

    Parkinson disease

    Parkinson's disease is characterised by the insidious onset of a slowing of emotional and voluntary movements, muscular rigidity, postural abnormality and tremors. The predominant lesion in Parkinson pathology is cell degeneration and loss of pigmented neurons

    Most cases of Parkinson's disease are not due to a genetic defect but are caused by other factors that are probably environmental (exposure to chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, diet and smoking).

    The Parkinson's Community on the Internet.

    You may need Parkinson disease glossary or have a look on specialized video clips.


    Osteoporosis is a disease that thins and weakens bones (especially bones in the hip, spine, and wrist) to the point where they break.

    Osteoporosis is preventable. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and a lifestyle that includes regular weight-bearing exercise are the best ways to prevent osteoporosis.

    Osteoporosis can be treated by hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This treatment should by administered carefully because all side effects and risk of long-term use are not perfectly understand.


    Cancer is the most common cause of death and morbidity in the elderly. Cancer occurs when some of the cells start to divide and spread in an uncontrolled manner. Cancer predisposition is genetic but could be also influenced by exposure to thousands of carcinogenic factors.

    Lung cancers, prostate and breast cancer increase with age.

    Glossary to breast cancer.

    Graphs with death rates for malignant neoplasm can be loaded.


    Normal functioning older adults are at no greater risk of depression than younger adults. However, personal dependence, medical histories, disabilities and ill-health may increase the possibility of developing depression or committing suicide. 20 percent of all suicide deaths are from depression, with white males being particularly vulnerable.

    Test your self for depression.

Anti-ageing therapies

Particular efforts are being made to learn more about possible life prolongation and more attention is being given to life extension science. Premature ageing diseases (progeria, Werner syndrome, Senescent accelerated mice), animals genetically modified by insertion or inactivation of genes (transgenic animals) and in vitro cell cultures allow identification of several mechanisms involved in life extension. Increased capacity to resist oxidative stress is particularly important.

There is compelling evidence that dietary restriction can lead to better health and longer life in laboratory animals.


Equilibrated diet is a source of proteins, sugars, lipids, vitamins and naturally occurring anti-oxidants.

The unbalance in the dietary supply of sugars, proteins, and lipids may initiate major health problems including obesity, coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, stroke, gout, and gall bladder disease. In old people a lack of vitamins causes vitamin deficiency.

You can test your own sugar sensitivity.

Antioxidants are natural substances that may help prevent ageing-related diseases.

Antioxidants fight ROS and can prevent partially ROS-initiated diseases. Some antioxidants, such as the enzyme superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathinone peroxydase are produced in the body. Others come from food.

With age, the efficiency of antioxidant enzymes declines and ROS induced damage increases. To compensate for antioxidant enzyme failure, food supply in antioxidant is necessary. The best way to get antioxidants is by eating fruit and vegetables rather than by taking vitamin pills but more research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

You can perform a nutrition quiz.

Hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can ease symptoms of menopause and protect against risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.

However, all treatments related to hormone replacement should be undertaken with caution since several side effects may be observed.

Memory loss prevention

Memory loss is not inevitable. Some simple devises may help to keep the memory intact: writing things down, always putting frequently used items in the same place, repeating information that one needs to remember over and over again, making associations and relying on situation to trigger the memory (for example, leaving an umbrella by the door).

You can have more information.

Memory test : with Shock wave remote; without plugging.

Physical exercise

Physical exercise is essential for a successful ageing. It helps to keep cardiovascular fitness reduces risks of osteoporosis and increases the sense of equilibrium

Social impact of an ageing society

An ageing population certainly has an impact on society. The presence of an increasing number of old people may provoke intergenerational tensions by generating competition between the young and old for a limited amount of resources, (economical, ecological, social, individual and political). This tension may compromise the intergenerational equity and the global sustainable development.

In order to deal with an ageing population and create an ageing " society for all ages ", it is necessary to constantly review and revise social systems relating to employment, pensions, medical care, welfare, education, social involvement and living environments so as to adapt them to an ageing society. To achieve this goal, both national and local governments, as well as corporations, local communities, households and individuals, must co-operate.




About us

Site map






  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/Ageing/part3.html Last modified: Fri Nov 1 2002