In both developed and developing countries, the elderly have enjoyed significant declines in mortality and increased survival. At the same time, these trends have also given rise to many uncertainties and demands on resources which are often not given their due attention. Future mortality declines, particularly among the elderly, are often overshadowed by fears of their increasing share of the total population and the demands that this places on society to resolve the problems stemming from longer survival - problems, for example, which are not just a question of guaranteeing longer life but also of ensuring an acceptable health status.In recent years, there has been a substantial literature on many facets of the daily lives of the elderly. This volume is a further contribution to the literature, pinpointing the most recent trends in the survival of the elderly and in their physical and mental health. It also describes possible scenarios for the early decades of the twenty-first century. To delineate current knowledge with regard to the health and survival of the elderly is a first step towards preparing projections and improving the efficacy of health policies for the elderly. The first section of this volume is dedicated to a discussion about the age at which people become `elderly' and to the application of evolutionary theory to demographic models of human mortality. The second section looks in more detail at different aspects of morbidity and mortality trends and their underlying causes. The third section deals with mortality projections, ranging from the hypotheses to problems of methodology. The fourth section covers social and health strategies to improve the survival and quality of life of the elderly, in view of the fact that more and more people may expect to live longer and longer, and perhaps in increasingly better health.
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