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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

  • Aging Brains Gain More From Exercise With Good Hydration

    Older adults, drink up. You need plenty of water during exercise so your brain gets the full benefits of working out, researchers say. More...

  • Annual Visits May Not Increase Cognitive Impairment Detection

    Medicare Annual Wellness Visits do not appear to substantially increase the detection of cognitive impairment in older adults, according to a study published online April 2 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

  • Health Tip: Screening for Cancer in Older Adults

    Though a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help prevent cancer as you age, you shouldn't ignore cancer screening tests, the American Cancer Society warns. More...

  • Healthy Diet, Healthy Eyes

    Healthy eating may help preserve your vision as you age, eye experts say. More...

  • USPSTF: Exercise Interventions Prevent Falls in Seniors

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concludes that exercise interventions may be beneficial for preventing falls in older adults; however, the evidence is insufficient to weigh the benefits and harms of vitamin D, calcium, and combined supplementation. These findings form the basis of two recommendation statements published April 17 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. More...

  • 45 More
    • Exercise In, Vitamin D Out for Preventing Falls: U.S. Panel

      With aging often comes worry about falls and the bone fractures they cause. Now, a panel of U.S. experts has new advice on what helps and what doesn't when it comes to staying upright. More...

    • Negative Fateful Life Events Linked to Advanced Brain Aging

      Negative fateful life events in midlife are associated with advanced predicted brain aging, according to a study published in the July issue of Neurobiology of Aging. More...

    • Health Tip: Improve Aging Skin

      Aging skin, like death and taxes, is unavoidable. But you can slow down the process and keep your skin looking younger. More...

    • Got Osteoarthritis? Get Moving

      Is arthritis pain getting in the way of your fitness plans? That need not be the case. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Show Ties To Alzheimer's Risk

      Even one night of lost sleep may cause the brain to fill with protein chunks that have long been linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease, a new study warns. More...

    • Why Americans' Life Expectancy Is Getting Longer

      Americans appear to be aging slower than they used to, which may help explain recent gains in life expectancy, researchers say. More...

    • Preserved Neurogenesis in Hippocampus of Healthy Seniors

      Healthy older subjects display preserved neurogenesis in the Hippocampus, according to a study published in the April 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell. More...

    • Stretching Can Help Get Seniors Moving

      Stretching leg muscles every day may benefit seniors and other people with mobility problems, a new study reports. More...

    • Older Brains Replenish Cells Just Like Young Brains: Study

      Contrary to popular thought, older adults' brains can churn out just as many new cells as younger brains do, a new study suggests. More...

    • When 'Nest Egg' Vanishes, Death Risk Rises

      Older adults who lose their life savings may also lose years from their life, a new study suggests. More...

    • Older Americans Support Medical Marijuana: Poll

      While few older Americans have used medical marijuana, many support it under the right conditions, a new survey finds. More...

    • Key Heart Risks Decline for Older Americans

      Older Americans dramatically reduced their risks for heart attack and stroke over a recent 20-year period, a new analysis finds. More...

    • Aortic Valve Replacement in Elderly Tied to High Mortality

      The 10-year mortality rate in elderly patients who receive surgical aortic valve replacement is considerable, according to a study published in the April 3 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. More...

    • 'Nontrivial' Number of Seniors Lack a Personal Physician

      Medicare beneficiaries without a personal physician report substantially worse patient experiences and less routine care, according to a study published online Feb. 16 in Medical Care. More...

    • Aging Can Be Tough to Swallow

      It's thought that one-quarter of U.S. adults will develop a swallowing problem at some point. But researchers hope insight from a new study may help lead to improved treatment. More...

    • Even Short Bursts of Activity Can Boost Long-Term Health

      Simply climbing a single set of stairs, walking around the block or taking a three-minute jog can improve a middle-aged person's health, even when such activity is spread across the day, new research suggests. More...

    • Study Weighs Heart Danger of Antibiotics for Older Women

      New research finds that, for women over 60, there's a link between long-term use of antibiotics and heightened odds for heart-linked death. More...

    • Health Tip: Leafy Greens May Slow Cognitive Decline

      Eating one serving of green leafy vegetables per day is associated with slower age-related cognitive decline, recent research suggests. More...

    • Fit Middle-Aged Women May Fend Off Dementia Later

      You may spend a lot of time working out, but there's a fitness reward you might not expect: better memory in your senior years. More...

    • Poor Sleep May Heighten Alzheimer's Risk

      Older adults who are sleepy during the day might have harmful plaque building in their brain that is a sign of impending Alzheimer's disease, researchers report. More...

    • Falls in Elderly Patients Cost $50 Billion Annually

      Older adult falls result in substantial medical costs, according to a study published online March 7 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • High Total Cholesterol Protects Against Cognitive Decline

      The risk of cognitive decline is reduced for people age 85 years and older with high cholesterol, according to a study published online March 5 in Alzheimer's & Dementia. More...

    • Falls Among Elderly Cost $50 Billion Annually

      Falls by older Americans have devastating medical and economic consequences, reaching $50 billion a year, a new study finds. More...

    • Health Tip: Using a Geriatric Care Manager

      A geriatric care manager (GCM) can help you and family members manage senior care and make daily life easier, the U.S. National Institute on Aging says. More...

    • High Cholesterol Tied to Better Brain Health in Those Over 85

      In a seemingly counterintuitive finding, new research suggests that high cholesterol is associated with a reduced risk of mental decline in the elderly. More...

    • Health Tip: Friendships May Stem Cognitive Decline in Seniors

      Forging new friendships and maintaining old ones may help slow cognitive decline among seniors, the U.S. National Institute on Aging says. More...

    • Health Tip: When Arthritis Strikes Your Feet

      If you have intense pain in your feet, arthritis may be the cause of your woes. More...

    • Health Tip: Balance Moves for Older Adults

      Balance exercises can help prevent falls, especially among older adults. But before you begin any exercise program, always consult your doctor. More...

    • Positive Age Beliefs May Protect Seniors Against Dementia

      Positive age beliefs may protect against dementia, even among older individuals with APOE ε4, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in PLOS ONE. More...

    • Your Attitude About Aging Might Affect Odds for Dementia

      If you hope to avoid dementia in old age, having an upbeat view on aging itself might help, new research suggests. More...

    • Menopause May Worsen Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

      Menopause may speed physical decline in women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a new study suggests. More...

    • What Works Best to Keep Drivers With Dementia Off the Road

      Don't count on physicians to keep drivers with dementia off the roads, a new study cautions. More...

    • Eye Tests Tied to Less Dementia in Older Drivers Who Crash

      Vision testing and in-person renewal requirements are significantly related to a reduced prevalence of dementia in older adults hospitalized after car crashes, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in Neurology. More...

    • Health Tip: Prevent Hypothermia Among Seniors

      Seniors are at heightened risk of hypothermia, the medical term for low body temperature. More...

    • Hearing Loss Common Among Heart Failure Patients

      Nearly three-quarters of patients aged 70 or older with heart failure have hearing loss, according to a research letter published online Jan. 25 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. More...

    • Much Hip Fx Variation in Nursing Homes Remains Unexplained

      Much variation in the incidence of hip fractures in U.S. nursing home facilities remains unexplained, even after examining characteristics at the state and facility levels, according to a study published online Jan. 16 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Cognitive Training Aids Memory in People With Mild Impairment

      Cognitive training improves memory in older patients with mild cognitive impairment, according to a study published Jan. 4 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Too Few Older, Hospitalized Patients Getting Flu Tests

      As a nasty flu season rages throughout the United States, new research finds that one particularly vulnerable population often misses out on tests for the illness. More...

    • Periodontitis in Older Adults Tied to Higher Total Cancer Risk

      Individuals with periodontitis have an increased total cancer risk, according to a study published online Jan. 12 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. More...

    • Older Adults Less Likely to Have Provider-Ordered Flu Testing

      Older adults are less likely than younger adults to have provider-ordered influenza testing, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Confusion Common in Seniors Prescribed Antibiotics for UTI

      Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in nursing home residents, and new or worsening confusion is strongly associated with antibiotic treatment for suspected UTI, according to a study published online Jan. 10 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Health Tip: Prevent Weight Gain

      As people age, the amount of muscle decreases and the amount of body fat increases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. More...

    • Winter Temps Raise Health Risks for Seniors

      Older adults are at increased risk for hypothermia, a dangerous drop in body temperature, the U.S. National Institute on Aging warns. More...

    • Falls More Common in Elderly With Cognitive Impairment

      Increasing evidence shows that cognitive therapies may help reduce falls in older adults, according to a review published online Jan. 10 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Grandparents Help Shape Kids' Views on Aging

      Kids who have a good relationship with their grandparents are less likely to become prejudiced against old people, a new study has found. More...

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