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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

  • Health Tip: Recognizing Hearing Loss

    About one-third of people aged 65 to 74 cannot hear as well as they should, and nearly half of people 75 and older have difficulty hearing, the National Institute on Aging says. More...

  • Seniors Slow to Embrace Online Access to Doctors

    Many doctors have internet portals to help patients manage their care. But that does not mean older folks will use them. More...

  • How Much Exercise Helps the Aging Brain?

    It is well-known that exercise benefits the brain as well as the heart and muscles, but new research pinpoints just how much -- and what types -- of exercise may promote thinking skills as you age. More...

  • "Markers" of Alzheimers Do Not Doom You to Dementia

    Even if you discover that you have the first biological signs of Alzheimers, you are not doomed to develop the crippling dementia, a new study suggests. More...

  • Health Tip: Safe Driving Tips for Older Adults

    Driving can become more difficult as people age and their eyesight changes. More...

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    • Even at 'Safe' Levels, Air Pollution Puts Seniors at Risk

      For older people, breathing in dirty air puts them at risk of being hospitalized with a dangerous respiratory disease, a new study suggests. More...

    • Start Exercising to Cut Your Heart Failure Risk

      Attention, middle-age couch potatoes: There's still time to lower your risk of heart failure, a condition affecting more than 5 million Americans. More...

    • Sleep Apnea Rarely Investigated in Older Adults

      A high risk of obstructive sleep apnea is common among older adults but is seldom investigated, though when it is investigated, it is almost always confirmed, according to a study published online May 9 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • New Medicare Perk: Diabetes Prevention

      Millions of U.S. seniors can now take part in a Medicare program designed to prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes. More...

    • Deadly Falls On the Rise Among U.S. Seniors

      The number of seniors dying from falls has increased dramatically over the past decade, U.S. health officials reported Friday. More...

    • Depression May Dampen Memory

      Depression may do more than darken your mood, with new research suggesting it might also sap your memory. More...

    • Psychological Therapies May Help Older Adults With Chronic Pain

      For older adults with chronic pain, psychological interventions have small benefits, including reducing pain and catastrophizing beliefs, according to a review published online May 7 in JAMA Internal Medicine. More...

    • Ditch the Golf Cart. Your Aging Knees Won't Mind

      Golfers with knee arthritis should park the golf cart and walk the links instead, researchers say. More...

    • Hearing Aid Use Linked to Beneficial Health Outcomes

      Use of hearing aids is associated with beneficial health outcomes, including reduced probability of emergency department visits and hospitalizations and reduced number of nights in the hospital, according to a study published online April 26 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. More...

    • Take These 5 Steps to Live 10 Extra Years

      Americans could add years to their lives with just a handful of healthy habits, a large, new study suggests. More...

    • After Age 50, Yearly Eye Checks May Catch Common Cause of Vision Loss

      As the U.S. population ages, vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration is likely to increase, an ophthalmologist says. More...

    • Hearing Aids May Help Keep Seniors Out of the Hospital

      Hearing aids may mean fewer visits to the hospital for seniors, a new study suggests. More...

    • One in Four Adults Report Having Arthritis

      Between 1999 and 2014, nearly one-quarter of American adults reported having arthritis, according to a study published recently in the American Journal of Public Health. More...

    • 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...

    • 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...

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