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Although at some point in our lives most of us finally accept that we are not going to live forever, few enjoy the process of getting old, particularly when it involves loss of function. However, improved living standards and the continuing progress in the quality and availability of healthcare, particularly in westernised countries, is resulting in populations being skewed towards the elderly. In these communities, provision for the aged will become one of the major challenges for the next century.
The editors of more than 100 international medical journals decided last year to sponsor a world wide movement to bring healthcare problems of the elderly to the fore in October 1997. Gut decided to join the initiative by dedicating part of this issue to aging with focused leading articles and original papers on gastrointestinal and liver topics as they relate to the elderly. We took …