Gerontology & Geriatrics

Elder abuse increasing, without increased awareness

About 16% of older adults are victims of some form of mistreatment and the number of reported cases of elder abuse is steadily increasing. Because of poor record-keeping, however, those of us who study elder abuse don't know ...

HIV & AIDS

People with HIV are growing old—and society isn't ready for it

The good news is that people with HIV are living much longer than they used to; it's estimated that by 2020, 70 percent of people living with HIV in the United States will be age 50 and older, compared to 10 percent during ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Overdose, suicide among leading reasons for deaths of new moms

Overdoses and suicides were among the most common reasons for mothers dying within a year of giving birth in California, according to a new study from Michigan State University and the University of California, Merced.

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Death

Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that define a living organism. It refers to both a particular event and to the condition that results thereby. The true nature of the latter has for millennia been a central concern of the world's religious traditions and of philosophical enquiry. Many religions maintain faith in either some kind of afterlife or reincarnation. The effect of physical death on any possible mind or soul remains for many an open question.

Animals almost without exception (see hydra) die in due course from senescence. Intervening phenomena which commonly bring death earlier include malnutrition, predation, disease, accidents resulting in terminal physical injury, or, in extreme circumstances, grave ecosystem disruption. Intentional human activity causing death includes suicide, homicide, and war. Roughly 150,000 people die each day across the globe. Death in the natural world can also occur as an indirect result of human activity: an increasing cause of species depletion in recent times has been destruction of ecological systems as a consequence of the widening spread of industrial technology.

Death in this context is now seen as less an event than a process: conditions once considered indicative of death are now reversible. Where in the process a dividing line is drawn between life and death depends on factors beyond the presence or absence of vital signs. In general, clinical death is neither necessary nor sufficient for a determination of legal death. A patient with working heart and lungs determined to be brain dead can be pronounced legally dead without clinical death occurring. Precise medical definition of death, in other words, becomes more problematic, paradoxically, as scientific knowledge and technology advance.

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