Skip to main content
Unit of study_

BIOS1172: Biological Aspects of Ageing

This unit of study examines the physiological changes associated with the normal processes of ageing and the decrease in functional capacity which occurs as a result. It will include a physiological explanation of ageing in relation to the cardiovascular, respiratory, immune, nervous, musculoskeletal, renal and endocrine systems and the skin. An understanding of the normal processes of ageing will help health professionals to interpret the ageing experience from the point of view of the client, understand the functional limitations which result from ageing, and differentiate 'normal' from 'abnormal' ageing. This is an entry level unit designed to give students an overview of topics relevant for professional practice. Topics are not covered in the detail that is applicable to specialist clinical units of study. Students who achieve a pass have a basic working knowledge of professionally relevant aspects of ageing. Students who achieve higher grades are better able to integrate various aspects of the unit, and to apply their knowledge to solve problems or explain higher level phenomena.

Code BIOS1172
Academic unit Department of Medical Sciences
Credit points 6

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Describe the key goal for aged care and the different ways in which you can think about the ageing process. Explain the two main theories that explain why ageing occurs in detail. Explain the relationship between ageing and disease and the implications for the provision of health care services. Explain the reserve capacity concept and how it explains many of the things that observed in older people?
  • LO2. Describe the effect of ageing on the functional capacity of the cardiovascular system and why these changes occur. Explain the relationship between ageing and disease in the cardiovascular system? Describe the structural and functional changes that occur in the ageing heart and vascular system. How do primary changes in the cardiovascular system affect the function of other organ systems?
  • LO3. Explain the effect of ageing on the reserve capacity in the respiratory system; the age-related change that occur in the airways, chest wall and the respiratory muscles; and why older people at increased risk of developing respiratory infection. Explain how ageing affect gas exchange in the lungs.
  • LO4. Explain why the ability of the immune system to respond to challenges changes with age with specific reference to each part of the innate and acquired immune systems. Explain the importance of vaccination in older people. Describe the factors that contribute to ageing in the immune system and how the immune system associated with ageing in other body systems?
  • LO5. Explain the consequences of age-related changes in the musculoskeletal system, why they occur and how they relate to function. Describe the changes occur in the ageing muscle and bone, their effects, and why they occur. Explain how changes in other body systems affect the musculoskeletal system. explain the pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
  • LO6. Describe the structure and roles of the skin. Explain how ageing affects each of the cutaneous layers and the implications of these changes with special reference to the development of pressure sores and problems associated with wound healing.
  • LO7. Describe the structural and functional changes that occur in different parts of the nervous system and why they occur. Explain how ageing affects memory and what can be done to minimise the development of memory problems. Explain the relationship between disease and functional changes in the nervous system. Explain the effects of ageing on the special senses and sleep and describe the implications of these changes.
  • LO8. Describe the general role of hormones in the body, the age-related changes that occur in glands and receptors and the functional effects of these changes. Describe in detail the effects of changes occurring in the ovaries, pituitary, parathyroid and adrenal glands with increasing age and the effects that these changes have an older person.
  • LO9. Describe the components of pharmacokinetics and how they are affected by ageing. Explain the term polypharmacy and its implications for older people including adverse drug reactions. Describe the identification and management of adverse drug reactions. Explain what is meant by adherence and how it can be maximised.
  • LO10. Explain the age-related changes that challenge the nutrition of older people and how they exert their effect. Describe the risk factors for malnutrition and the implications of weight loss for older people. Describe the details of food preference, feeding behaviour, and special nutritional requirements of older people.
  • LO11. Describe the basic physiology of pain Describe how prevalence of pain changes in older people and the common pain syndromes. Explain how people's attitudes and responses to pain changes they age.Explain the challenges to managing pain in older people and the consequences if it is not managed properly.Describe the principles of pain assessment and pain management in older people and the psychosocial and behavioural factors affecting pain.