Though you may approach a course in biology of aging strictly as a requirement for your field of study, the knowledge you gain in this course will serve you well in many aspects of your life. An understanding of aging is not only fundamental to any career in human services, but it can also benefit your own health. Familiarity with the human body can help you make healthful choices and prompt you to take appropriate action when signs of illness arise. Your knowledge in this field will help you understand changes to the human body through out your own and others life times. Additionally you will gain a knowledge base so that you can better understand future news about nutrition, medications, medical devices, and procedures. At some point, everyone will have a problem with some aspect of his or her body and your knowledge can help you to be a better parent, spouse, partner, friend, colleague, or caregiver.
This chapter begins with an overview of the human body and a preview of the body functions. It then covers the characteristics of life and how the body works to maintain stable conditions. Next the chapter will cover the standard methods used to study aging, rates of aging, and general changes to the body as it ages. It ends with standard terms related to aging that will serve as a foundation for more comprehensive information covered later in the text.