Human aging: usual and successful

Science. 1987 Jul 10;237(4811):143-9. doi: 10.1126/science.3299702.


Research in aging has emphasized average age-related losses and neglected the substantial heterogeneity of older persons. The effects of the aging process itself have been exaggerated, and the modifying effects of diet, exercise, personal habits, and psychosocial factors underestimated. Within the category of normal aging, a distinction can be made between usual aging, in which extrinsic factors heighten the effects of aging alone, and successful aging, in which extrinsic factors play a neutral or positive role. Research on the risks associated with usual aging and strategies to modify them should help elucidate how a transition from usual to successful aging can be facilitated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging* / metabolism
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Grief
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Services for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Reference Values
  • Social Support
  • Volition