Aging as disease

Med Health Care Philos. 2015 May;18(2):237-43. doi: 10.1007/s11019-014-9600-y.


In this paper, I will argue that ageing can be construed as disease. First, the concept of disease is discussed, where the distinction is made between two lines of thought, an objectivist and a subjectivist one. After determining the disease conception to be used throughout the argument, it is proposed that senescence could be seen as disease. Three common counterarguments are discussed, none of which appears strong enough to effectively counter the advocated view. In the third section, two potential implications of the view advocated here will be briefly touched upon. These are the quest for a cure or treatment for ageing and the general attitude towards the elderly. It is concluded that, utilizing an objective disease concept, ageing could be seen as a disease. None of the considered counterarguments packs enough of a punch to discard this. The implications are complex and intertwined, but need not be negative.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Disease*
  • Humans
  • Medicalization / ethics*
  • Philosophy, Medical