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Life course, exposure, and ageing populations 

Life course, exposure, and ageing populations
Chapter:
Life course, exposure, and ageing populations
Author(s):

Yoav Ben-Shlomo

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198749493.003.0003
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date: 18 October 2021

The demographic changes experienced globally mean that the 21st century faces the challenge of caring for an ageing population. Without preventative measures, this will be further aggravated by the successes of medical technologies which continue to reduce case fatality and hence add to the multi-morbid nature of older populations. A life-course approach to ageing conceptualizes the different trajectories by which traits may decline before leading to clinical disease or disability. It highlights gaps in our current understanding of the drivers of such trajectories and periods where the timing of adverse exposures may have a disproportionate negative or positive impact on later life outcomes. This is illustrated with a wide variety of examples and applied to neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia. Future primary and secondary preventative measures must consider interventions across the whole of the life course.

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