Conclusions

The number of elders living in the United States is rapidly growing. Elders are uniquely burdened with illnesses (some of which are associated with aging) and account for most deaths. In order to reduce morbidity and mortality experienced by elders, research involving elderly human subjects is needed. Contemporary codes of ethics and regulations governing research involving human subjects derive from the ethical principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. Investigators conducting research involving elders should be familiar with and adhere to these general ethical principles. In addition, investigators should acknowledge and address the unique aspects and potential ethical challenges of research involving elderly persons. A checklist for addressing these unique aspects and potential ethical challenges is found in Table 7.4. A list of useful Web-based resources for investigators engaged in research involving elderly persons is found in Table 7.5. Following this approach should yield ethically valid and fruitful results not only for the good of elders but also for society in general.

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