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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

  • How Puzzles, Games Might Help Your Aging Brain

    Those Sunday crossword puzzles may not prevent the aging brain from slowing down -- but they might protect it in a different way, a new study suggests. More...

  • Health Tip: What Causes Memory Loss?

    The agency says anything that affects the processes of thinking and learning can affect memory. More...

  • Saunas Seem to Do a Heart Good, Research Shows

    Love your time in the local sauna? Your heart may love it, too. More...

  • Doctors' Office Dementia Tests Are Often Wrong: Study

    Fast tests designed to help primary care doctors rapidly spot dementia in their elderly patients often get it wrong, a new British report contends. More...

  • Climate Change Ups Heat Deaths, Especially Among Elderly: Report

    Hotter temperatures threaten the elderly and other vulnerable people with heat stress, and heart and kidney disease, according to an international team of experts. More...

  • 45 More
    • Health Tip: Avoid the Appearance of Aging

      That doesn't mean you can't take steps to avoid becoming too wrinkled, the American Academy of Dermatology says. More...

    • Only Endurance Exercise May Slow Aging

      Running, swimming, cycling and other types of endurance exercise can slow cellular aging, but strength training may not, a new study suggests. More...

    • Seniors on Multiple Meds a Driving Hazard

      Many older drivers take medications known to raise the risk of a crash, a new study shows. More...

    • Health Surrogates Often in Dark About Loved One's Wishes

      Few people entrusted with making difficult health care decisions for older loved ones actually know what the patient would want, a new study contends. More...

    • Health Tip: Stay Active During Winter

      As you age, it can be difficult to stay active, particularly during winter. The National Institute on Aging urges people to stay active all year long. More...

    • Health Tip: Should You Be Worried About Memory Loss?

      It's taking you longer than it once did to learn a new task. Or you've forgotten about today's doctor's appointment. Should you be worried? More...

    • Can Protein Keep You Healthier Longer?

      Eating more protein may reduce seniors' risk of disability and help them remain independent longer, a new British study suggests. More...

    • Health Tip: How Bad is Your Hearing Loss?

      You've had a professional diagnose your hearing loss. So how bad is it? More...

    • Ageism Costs Billions in Health Care Dollars

      Prejudice directed at older people results in $63 billion in excess health costs each year in the United States, a new study claims. More...

    • Must Blood Pressure Rise Wth Age? Remote Tribes Hold Clues

      Contrary to common belief, blood pressure doesn't have to rise as you age, a study of two remote South American tribes suggests. More...

    • Change Within the Eye May Be Early Warning for Macular Degeneration

      The investigators discovered that calcifications in the retina -- the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye -- raise the risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD). More...

    • Aging Face, Uneven Features?

      New research shows that differences between the two sides of your face increase with age. More...

    • Untreated Hearing Loss Can Be Costly for Seniors

      Having hearing loss and not knowing it might translate into higher medical bills and other health problems for many seniors, two new studies suggest. More...

    • Worst Bedsores Still Plague U.S. Hospital Patients: Study

      Despite years of attention to the problem, U.S. hospitals have made little headway in preventing severe cases of bedsores among older Americans, a new study shows. More...

    • Think Genes Dictate Your Life Span? Think Again

      Your life partner has a much greater influence on your longevity than the genes you inherited from your family, according to a new analysis of the family trees of more than 400 million people. More...

    • More Americans Are Raising Their Grandkids

      More than 3 million older Americans are now raising their grandchildren as their own, even as they struggle with health problems and financial stresses, a new survey shows. More...

    • 'Stress Hormone' Tied to Worse Memory in Middle Age

      Middle-aged people with higher-than-average levels of the "stress" hormone cortisol may have fuzzier memories, a new study suggests. More...

    • Warmer Weather Gets Seniors Outdoors and Moving

      The better the weather, the more seniors venture out and get active. More...

    • AHA: Heart Health's Impact on Brain May Begin in Childhood

      A child's blood pressure could indicate cognition problems into adulthood, according to a new study suggesting the cardiovascular connection to cognitive decline could begin much earlier in life than previously believed. More...

    • Poorer Care at For-Profit Nursing Homes, Study Claims

      Older adults who live in for-profit nursing homes are nearly twice as likely to have health problems linked to poor care than those in nonprofit nursing homes and those who live in private homes, a new study finds. More...

    • Health Tip: It's Never Too Late to Exercise

      If you are middle aged and out of shape, it isn't too late to get active and improve your health, the American Heart Association says. More...

    • Health Tip: Suggestions For Healthier Aging

      Many factors influence how we age, ranging from dietary choices and physical activity to health screenings and managing risk factors for disease. More...

    • Cataract Surgery, Hearing Aid May Boost the Aging Brain

      You won't jump for joy when you're told you need hearing aids or cataract surgery. But get this: Both appear to slow mental decline in older adults. More...

    • Seniors, Take Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Falling

      One in four Americans 65 and older falls each year, with some ending up in hospitals or even dying. But new research suggests that it's possible to avoid some of these serious injuries. More...

    • First User-Fitted Hearing Aid Approved

      The first hearing aid that doesn't require the assistance of an audiologist or other health care provider has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. More...

    • Vitamin D Supplements Won't Build Bone Health in Older Adults: Study

      A review of previously published studies found that taking either high or low doses of vitamin D supplements didn't prevent fractures or falls, or improve bone density. More...

    • Fitter Folks Suffer Milder Strokes: Study

      It's well-known that regular exercise can help cut your risk for a stroke. Now, new research shows fitness may have an added bonus, cutting the severity of a stroke should one occur. More...

    • Reports Warn of Growing Opioid Crisis Among Seniors

      Against the backdrop of an unrelenting opioid crisis, two new government reports warn that America's seniors are succumbing to the pitfalls of prescription painkillers. More...

    • Is Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Really Worth It for Seniors?

      There's disappointing news for seniors: A new trial shows that taking daily low-dose aspirin doesn't prolong healthy, independent living in otherwise healthy people aged 70 and older. More...

    • Daytime Drowsiness a Sign of Alzheimer's?

      Feeling drowsy during the day might mean you have an increased risk for Alzheimer's, new research suggests. More...

    • An Ancient Art May Work Best to Prevent Falls in Old Age

      The ancient practice of tai chi may beat strength training and aerobics for preventing falls among seniors, a new trial shows. More...

    • 1 in 4 Seniors Who Take Xanax, Valium Use Them Long Term

      When older people use drugs like Valium or Xanax to calm anxiety or help them sleep, they run a high risk of becoming drug-dependent, new research suggests. More...

    • More Aging Boomers Are Embracing Pot

      New research shows pot isn't the drug of choice for just the young anymore. More middle-aged folks, and even seniors, are lighting up nowadays, researchers say. More...

    • Evidence Doesn't Support Statin Use in Healthy Seniors

      There is no evidence to support the widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to prevent heart disease and stroke in old and very old people, Spanish researchers say. More...

    • New Wrinkle in Heart Health: Furrowed Brows May Bode Ill

      A furrowed brow could be a red flag for your heart health, a new French study suggests. More...

    • Here's a Part of Aging That Really Stinks

      Unpleasant phantom odors haunt many older Americans, a new study finds. More...

    • Health Tip: Are You at Risk for Macular Degeneration?

      Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among people 50 and older, the U.S. National Eye Institute says. More...

    • Here's What Predicts a Woman's Odds of Living Till 90

      Women whose mothers lived a long and healthy life have a good chance of doing the same, a new study suggests. More...

    • Here's What Makes Seniors Feel and Act Younger

      When older adults feel more control of their lives and get more exercise, they feel younger -- and that improves their thinking, overall quality of life and longevity, the studies say. More...

    • For Seniors, Getting Physical Protects the Heart

      If you're in your early 60s, becoming more active may reduce your risk of heart disease, researchers report. More...

    • Have Glaucoma and Need to Switch Eye Docs? Here's What You Need to Do

      If you have glaucoma and need to find a new ophthalmologist, creating a personal data portfolio will help ensure a smooth transition in the care of your eye disease. More...

    • Just 2 Weeks' Inactivity Can Trigger Diabetes in at-Risk Seniors: Study

      A short stretch of inactivity can unlease diabetes in older adults at risk for the blood-sugar disease, a new study finds. More...

    • Why Seniors Can Struggle With Swallowing

      If you have developed swallowing problems as you age, a new study may explain why. More...

    • Most Seniors Uninformed on Opioid Use

      A new survey suggests health care professionals are giving short shrift to their older patients when it comes to explaining the risks of opioid painkillers. More...

    • Scuba Diving May Be Risky for Older Hearts

      Scuba diving might sound like a great adventure, but a new report warns that if you are older and overweight, you have a higher chance of having a heart attack while underwater. More...

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