force participation, and responsibilities for caregiving; interactions among neuroendocrine and other hormones; and cognitive and psychological status. Potentially significant are the many connections of this research with work in clinical science and health services delivery research as it relates to alterability of risk factors, appropriateness and effectiveness of interventions, utilization, service delivery, and many other areas.

Race and Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, and Other Cultural Factors

As is the case with gender, the cultural factors associated with race and ethnicity present important variables across and among the disciplines of aging. For example, racial and ethnic differences in metabolizing certain drugs and substances are confounded by cultural variables in the use of these substances, definition and presentation of symptoms, other illness behaviors, and acceptance of treatment regimens. In addition, an understanding of the effects of racial and ethnic-cultural differences in resource allocation is critical in explaining clinical, social, and psychological differences in aging and in health care service utilization. Moreover, race and ethnicity may well be contributing factors to underlying basic biological processes or their manifestations in old age.

Population Dynamics

Issues of population dynamics include accurate estimation and prediction of population trends in longevity, mortality, morbidity, and functional status. These dynamics also have major linkages with health services delivery concerns about access, availability of services, financing, system design, and policy formation. However, these issues, particularly as they concern estimates of the health and functional problems most likely to face large numbers of elderly people in the coming decades, also have connections to basic biomedical and clinical research in terms of predicting problems and defining important areas of research.

Brain, Environment, Society, and Behavior

Some of the age-related deficits in memory performance and cognitive function are amenable to understanding at the neurobiological level. But the question of the extent of memory deficit due to deterioration of basic storage mechanisms in the brain in contrast to



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement