• Issue: June 1975
  • Designer: Z. Narkiss
  • Stamp size: 40 x 25.7 mm
  • Plate no.: 443
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Gerontology is a new science concerned with the study of an old problem; and while the subject under study has a long, long history, gerontology itself dates back only several decades.

Gerontology (the term signifies "the study of the old" and is formed from two Greek words - "geron" old man and "logos" study) deals with research into the essence and causes of ageing (biological gerontology). A related field of research is "clinical gerontology" or "geriatrics" which deals with those illnesses associated with old age, their treatment and prevention. Gerontology also deals with the ways in which social and environmental factors affect the problems of ageing in our society (social gerontology). The dramatic increase in both the absolute and relative number of old people in our society which made it necessary for society to organize itself to deal with this new problem (the provision of special services; special arrangements for the aged; etc.) are the subject of another fast-growing field of research and action - "applied gerontology".

Gerontology is an inter-disciplinary science and its practitioners are drawn from numerous fields and include biologists, doctors, nurses and other health workers; social workers; psychiatrists; sociologists; Anthropologists; political scientists; economists; architects; planners; lawyers; politicians; legislators; experts in employment, retraining; retirement, insurance and pensions. Among others in this field are to be found philosophers, men of letters, educators and numerous other experts concerned with one aspect or another of gerontology, whether by way of research, teaching, care of the aged, or engaged in organizing or providing special services.

Gerontology is first and foremost a field of basic research -both theoretical and practical (applied). Work is carried on in special research institutes, laboratories, medical centres and special centres for the aged. The results of this rapidly-growing volume of research are published in dozens of languages in the pages of scientific journals and books all over the world as well as in reports and articles. In the last resort, how-ever all this work is aimed at improving the lot of Man in the late stage of his life on earth - a stage which is steadily being extended. There always were old people but never were they found in such large numbers in so many societies. Man's life-expectancy is increasing ,and a baby born in Israel today can expect to live to the age of 71 or more.

The number of old people in Israel has increased eightfold since the establishment of the State as against a fourfold increase in population. In the not-too-distant future, 10% of the population of Israel will be in the "65 or over" age-group. There are already a quarter of a million over-65's and their number is steadily increasing.

If we look at the population of the world today, we see that there are close to 200 million people over the age of 65 and United Nations experts have estimated that by the year 2000 there will be some 600 million people aged 60 and over of whom some 250 million will be 70 or more. 'long-evity explosion" has become a major problem whose solution requires not only research into the basic problems of the process of growing old but also (and maybe to an even greater degree) the taking of positive action to ensure that the old people will be able to pass their old age meaningfully and in good health; to give a purpose and positive value to their extended life-span and to create a positive social environment in which they can make their own contribution to society and turn to society for aid in their time of need.

Gerontology was put on to a scientific basis in the western world only during the last few decades and the United States and various countries in Western Europe have taken the lead in formulating the theories of gerontology, in encouraging basic and practical research and in setting-up the services needed to serve the economic and human needs of the aged. The forties witnessed the beginnings of organised gerontology and precisely 25 years ago - in June 1950 - a handful of scientists met together in Belgium for the first International Conference of Gerontology. This Conference established the International Gerontological Association which today consists of ab6ut 40 national scientific Gerontological Associations from all over the globe. - The Association holds its congresses once every three years and there have been nine such congresses held to date in Europe and the United States. The 10th Congress which marks the Silver Jubilee of organised gerontology on an international scale is taking place in Jerusalem. Israel was chosen to host the Congress due to its special position as a country of absorption - a society in the making and a social laboratory in which experiments in the care of the aged are being carried out. The Congress also marks the 20th anniversary of the Israel Gerontological Society which was founded in 1955.

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