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Aging & Geriatrics

Introduction to Aging and Geriatrics

Aging & Geriatrics

Great improvements in medicine, public health, science, and technology have enabled today's older Americans to live longer and healthier lives than previous generations. Older adults want to remain healthy and independent at home in their communities. Society wants to minimize the health care and economic costs associated with an increasing older population. The science of aging indicates that chronic disease and disability are not inevitable. As a result, health promotion and disease prevention activities and programs are an increasing priority for older adults, their families, and the health care system.

Many people fail to make the connection between undertaking healthy behaviors today and the impact of these choices later in life. Studies indicate that healthy eating, physical activity, mental stimulation, not smoking, active social engagement, moderate use of alcohol, maintaining a safe environment, social support, and regular health care are important in maintaining he...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What healthy choices should those who are aging make?

  • Choosing a doctor is one of the most important decisions anyone can make. The best time to make that decision is while you are still healthy and have time to really think about all your choices.
  • Studies show that endurance activities help prevent or delay many diseases that seem to come with age. In some cases, endurance activity can also improve chronic diseases or their symptoms.
  • You can improve your health if you move more and eat better!
  • As you grow older, you may need less energy from what you eat, but you still need just as many of the nutrients in food.
  • The Federal Government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly encourage older adults to be immunized against flu, pneumococcal disease, tetanus and diphtheria, and chickenpox, as well as measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • Sunlight is a major cause of the skin changes we think of as aging — changes such as wrinkles, dryness, and age spots.

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What medical issues can those who are aging face?

  • Age can bring changes that affect your eyesight.
  • About one-third of Americans older than age 60 and about half the people who are 85 and older have hearing loss. Whether a hearing loss is small (missing certain sounds) or large (being profoundly deaf), it is a serious concern.
  • Menopause is the time around the age of 51 when your body makes much less of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone and you stop having periods, which can cause troublesome symptoms for some women.
  • The risk of osteoporosis grows as you get older. Ten million Americans have osteoporosis, and 8 million of them are women.
  • Prostate problems are common in men age 50 and older. There are many different kinds of prostate problems and treatments vary but prostate problems can often be treated without affecting sexual function.
  • Loss of bladder control is called urinary incontinence and at least 1 in 10 people age 65 or older has this problem.
  • In order to meet the criteria for an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, a person's cognitive deficits must cause significant impairment in occupational and/or social functioning.

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What mental health issues can those who are aging face?

  • Because the aging process affects how the body handles alcohol, the same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect as a person grows older. Over time, someone whose drinking habits haven’t changed may find she or he has a problem.
  • There are many reasons why depression in older people is often missed or untreated. The good news is that people who are depressed often feel better with the right treatment.

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News Articles

  • Fracture Risk Higher for Seniors With Diabetes

    Bone weaknesses seen in those with blood sugar disease. More...

  • Health Tip: Medication Suggestions for Older Adults

    Be safer when taking your meds More...

  • Short Duration of Hospice Seen for Seniors at End of Life

    The presence and number of restricting symptoms and the number of disabilities are associated with increased likelihood of hospice admission for older adults during their last year of life, according to a study published online Sept. 12 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

  • Heath Tip: Myths About the Aging Brain

    Learn the truth More...

  • 45 More
    • Remember This: A Healthy Body Keeps the Mind Sharp, Too

      Major heart health groups say exercise, good diet can help you maintain memory as you age. More...

    • Is Dementia Declining Among Older Americans?

      Rates have fallen among those 70 and older; gains against heart disease might explain trend. More...

    • Too Much TV May Cost You Your Mobility

      Excessive sitting after 50 is tied to disability, study finds. More...

    • More Than Half of Americans Will Need Nursing Home Care: Study

      More short-term stays the biggest factor fueling the increase. More...

    • Less Than Half of Seniors With A-Fib Receive Anticoagulants

      Less than 45 percent of older adults with atrial fibrillation admitted to the hospital are prescribed an anticoagulant, according to a study published online Aug. 21 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Patients' Hearing Loss May Mean Poorer Medical Care

      Misunderstandings raise the risk for medical errors, study finds. More...

    • How You Think About Your Arthritis Makes a Difference

      Confidence in your ability to remain active improves day-to-day life, study finds. More...

    • Do Fewer Nightly Dreams Mean Higher Dementia Risk in Seniors?

      For every 1 percent drop in sleep's REM phase, a 9 percent jump in odds for thinking, memory troubles, study found. More...

    • Supplement May Help Against Vision-Robbing Disease in Seniors

      But no large studies prove the inexpensive pill slows age-related macular degeneration, eye expert says. More...

    • Health Tip: Heat and the Elderly

      How to stay safe when temperatures rise More...

    • Caregiving Needs Double as End of Life Nears

      Most rely on family members to provide that support, researchers say. More...

    • Sitting Could Be Big Health Risk for Frail Folks

      Being sedentary not linked to early death in people who are generally healthy, study finds. More...

    • Lower Blood Pressure Best for Seniors' Minds

      And study found that healthy reductions may benefit blacks even more than whites. More...

    • Physical Activity Predicts Disability in Older Adults

      Accelerometer-measured physical activity levels are strongly associated with major mobility disability (MMD) and persistent MMD events in older adults with limited mobility, according to a study published online Aug. 11 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • 'On the Move' Group Exercise Program Aids Walking in Elderly

      The "On the Move" group exercise program is more effective at improving mobility in the elderly, compared to seated, usual-care exercise programs, according to a study published online Aug. 14 in JAMA Internal Medicine. More...

    • Taking a Stand on Staying Mobile After 80

      Standing exercises better than sitting ones for preserving walking skills, study finds. More...

    • The Right Shoes Can Help Prevent Falls

      What you should look for in the shoe store More...

    • Yoga May Boost Aging Brains

      Changes seen in areas involved with attention and memory, but it's not yet clear if yoga is the cause. More...

    • Health Tip: One of Three Adults Gets Shingles

      It's the same virus that causes chickenpox in kids More...

    • Midlife Behaviors May Affect Your Dementia Risk

      Of greatest importance are diabetes, blood pressure and smoking, researchers say. More...

    • 'Loneliness Epidemic' Called a Major Public Health Threat

      Social isolation tied to increased risk for premature death, research suggests. More...

    • Protein at All 3 Meals May Help Preserve Seniors' Strength

      Staves off muscle decline, Canadian researchers suggest. More...

    • Inappropriate Med Use High in Cognitively Impaired Seniors

      Many nursing home residents with cognitive impairment or dementia have potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use, with PIM use more likely among frail individuals, according to a study published online July 28 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Switching to Generic Eye Meds Could Save Medicare Millions

      Prescribing generic drugs for seniors' eye problems could save the U.S. government hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to a study published recently in Ophthalmology. More...

    • Exercise Not Making Dent in Most Seniors' Down Time

      Study found it only cut the amount of sedentary time by 12 minutes each day. More...

    • Just Thinking You're Less Active May Shorten Your Life

      Study suggests that even when people weren't really more sedentary, their risk of early death rose. More...

    • Health Benefits of Healthy Lifestyle Quantified in U.S.

      For people age 50 years and older, having a favorable behavioral profile is associated with increased life expectancy and delayed onset of disability compared with the whole U.S. population, according to a study published online July 19 in Health Affairs. More...

    • In Mice, Brain Cells Discovered That Might Control Aging

      These stem cells might hold valuable clues to time's effects on the body. More...

    • Health Tip: Adapting After Hip Replacement

      What to do, not do More...

    • Targeting 9 Risk Factors Could Prevent 1 in 3 Dementia Cases: Study

      Reducing mid-life hearing loss might make the biggest difference. More...

    • A Healthy Diet May Help Ward Off Dementia

      New studies suggest that, yes, eating right could boost your brain function. More...

    • New Criteria Urged for Infection Diagnosis Among Seniors in ER

      Emergency department physicians need new criteria for diagnosing infection among older adults, according to a study published online recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Cognitive Function Up With Adherence to Mediterranean Diet

      For older adults, greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean-DASH diet Intervention for Neurodegeneration Delay is associated with improved cognitive function, according to a study published online recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Living With Purpose May Help Seniors Sleep Soundly

      Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome are less common in those with a reason for getting up in the morning, study finds. More...

    • Seniors' Lungs Can Tackle Exercise

      Researchers find older adults' respiratory systems keep up with demands of cycling regimen. More...

    • Exercise Can Keep Obese Seniors on the Go

      Study ties physical activity to ability to perform everyday tasks. More...

    • Pre-, Post-Op C-Reactive Protein Levels Tied to Delirium

      For older adults undergoing major noncardiac surgery, preoperative and postoperative day 2 C-reactive protein levels are associated with the incidence, duration, and severity of delirium, according to a study published online May 26 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • A Cheaper Alternative to Hearing Aids?

      Devices performed almost as well and are much cheaper, but they aren't regulated, researchers note. More...

    • Poll Finds Seniors Struggling With Drug Costs Don't Seek Help

      Many older Americans who have difficulty paying for their medications don't seek help in finding more economical options, according to the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging. More...

    • For Many, Friends Are Key to Happiness in Old Age

      These relationships may even outstrip family when it comes to well-being, study suggests. More...

    • Slowed Walking, Shrinking Brain?

      Study found seniors whose pace dropped showed shrinkage in brain region linked to memory, spatial orientation. More...

    • Is Potential Human Life Span Unlimited?

      Maybe, says biologist, especially if technology and medicine keep improving. More...

    • Even at Low Levels, Dirty Air Raises Death Risk for U.S. Seniors

      Research suggests blacks, men and the poor are especially vulnerable. More...

    • Lifestyle Changes Might Prevent or Slow Dementia

      The public should be aware of this encouraging research, expert says. More...

    • Revisits After Discharge From Observation Up in Elderly

      For Medicare beneficiaries age 65 years and older, hospital revisits frequently occur after discharge from observation stays, and have increased over time, according to a study published online June 20 in The BMJ. More...

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