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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

  • Steroid Shots for Painful Joints May Make Matters Worse

    Corticosteroid shots are often used to ease arthritis pain, but a new study suggests they may be riskier than thought. More...

  • How Fast You Walk Might Show How Fast You're Aging

    Turns out that the walking speed of 45-year-olds is a pretty solid marker of how their brains and bodies are aging, a new study suggests. More...

  • Standard Memory Tests for Seniors Might Differ by Gender

    Are some tests designed to measure memory declines missing signs of trouble in women? More...

  • AHA News: Growing – and Aging – Hispanic Population at Risk for Dementia

    The Hispanic population over 65 will nearly quadruple in the next 40 years, eventually representing nearly 1 in 5 older Americans. And growing alongside the population will be the daunting challenge of age-related dementia. More...

  • Stroke Rate Continues to Fall Among Older Americans

    Starting in the late 1980s, stroke rates among older Americans began to fall -- and the decline shows no signs of stopping, a new study finds. More...

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    • Many U.S. Seniors Are Going Hungry, Study Finds

      Almost 1 in 10 U.S. seniors doesn't have enough food to eat, a new study shows. More...

    • Many Poor, Minority Seniors Get Cancer Diagnosis in the ER

      If you are a senior who is poor or from a minority group, the chances may be higher that you could receive a cancer diagnosis in the emergency room, a new study suggests. More...

    • Give Seniors a Memory Check at Annual Checkups, Experts Say

      Many older people show evidence of mental decline, called mild cognitive impairment, but doctors often miss this sometimes early sign of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. More...

    • For People at High Risk, Evidence That Exercise Might Slow Alzheimer's

      For people at risk of Alzheimer's disease, working out a couple of times a week might at least slow the onset of the illness, new research suggests. More...

    • Staying Healthy Now to Work Into Older Age

      Having one or more chronic health conditions, from diabetes to arthritis, can make it harder to keep working through your 60s and, for those who want or need to, beyond. More...

    • Aggressive Blood Pressure Treatment Does Not Put Seniors at Risk: Study

      Intensive treatment to lower high blood pressure can decrease older adults' risk of sharp blood pressure drops that can cause dizziness and increase the likelihood of falling, a new study says. More...

    • Can Older Women Stop Getting Mammograms?

      Although regular screening mammograms can catch breast cancer early, new research suggests women over 75 who have chronic illnesses can probably skip this test. More...

    • Getting Hitched Might Lower Your Odds for Dementia

      Marriage has been said to deflect depression, stave off stress, even help people live longer. Now a new study says it may also decrease your chance of developing dementia. More...

    • Many Older Americans Aren't Equipped to Weather Hurricanes Like Dorian

      As Hurricane Dorian continues to churn up the east coast of Florida, a new poll shows that many older Americans aren't fully prepared to cope with natural disasters or severe storms. More...

    • How You Can Help Head Off Alzheimer's Disease

      There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease, according to an expert. More...

    • Who's Most Likely to Scam a Senior? The Answer May Surprise You

      As people age and their mental capacities decline, they can often be targeted by scammers seeking easy cash. More...

    • AHA News: Time With Grandkids Could Boost Health – Even Lifespan

      Spending time with grandchildren can have positive health impacts. But there is a caveat. Quality is just as important as quantity. More...

    • Even Age 80 Is Not Too Late to Begin Exercising: Study

      Even seniors who never exercised regularly can benefit from a workout program, researchers say. More...

    • AHA News: It's Never Too Late to Reap Health Rewards of Exercise, Strength Training

      As people age, physical activity still needs to be part of the game plan for living a healthy, happy life – and experts say it's never too late to get active and build strength. More...

    • Is Your Forgetfulness Reason for Concern?

      Do others tell you that you're forgetful? Do you have a hard time remembering names? More...

    • For Seniors, 'Silent Strokes' Are Common Post-Surgery Threat: Study

      Silent strokes are common in seniors who have had surgery, and may double their risk of mental decline within a year, a Canadian study reports. More...

    • Dodge Dementia With Healthy Lifestyle

      In the study, researchers found that of over 6,300 adults aged 55 and older, those with healthy habits had a lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia over the next 15 years. That was true, at least, for people at low or intermediate risk of dementia because of their genes. More...

    • When Is It Time for Seniors to Hand Over the Car Keys?

      Driving is a source of independence for many seniors, so determining when they should hang up the keys requires careful consideration, an expert says. More...

    • Supplement Pills Can Pose Choking Risk for Seniors, Study Finds

      Large pills and dietary supplements can be tough for anyone to swallow, but new research finds they may pose a potentially dire risk to seniors. More...

    • Upping Seniors' Blood Pressure Meds After Hospital Can Sometimes Bring Danger

      For seniors who've been hospitalized for non-cardiac conditions, any hike in blood pressure medications as they leave the hospital can prove dangerous, new research shows. More...

    • Recognizing When Your Parents Need Help

      Sometimes it's obvious when older parents need outside help -- like when they're having difficulty managing numerous chronic illnesses or losing mobility and unable to maneuver well even at home. But mental problems may not be as easy to spot. More...

    • AHA News: Tiring Easily May Warn of Future Heart Trouble

      Fatigue is universal, a feeling that becomes increasingly familiar as people get older. But when you fatigue too easily, it may not just be related to age but a reflection of your chance of having a stroke or heart attack in the near future. More...

    • Tight Blood Pressure Control Could Help Save Aging Brains

      Staying sharp and warding off dementia might rely, in part, on doing your best to keep high blood pressure at bay. More...

    • Too Much Napping May Signal Alzheimer's

      If you often find yourself dosing off during the day, new research suggests it might be an early warning sign that you have Alzheimer's disease. More...

    • Health Tip: Fatigue in Older Adults

      For older adults, being tired here and there may be common, says the National Institute on Aging. More...

    • Heart-Healthy Habits Good For Your Brain

      Want to reduce your risk of dementia? Take care of your heart. More...

    • Despite Cancer Screening, 'Oldest Old' Have Low Survival Odds: Study

      The oldest Americans have higher cancer screening rates but lower cancer survival rates than younger seniors, a new report shows. More...

    • Stay Social to Help Cut Your Odds of Dementia

      The evidence continues to mount that staying socially engaged as you age helps keep dementia at bay. More...

    • Frailty Not a Normal Part of Aging

      But it's not just a byproduct of aging: Frailty is a standalone medical condition, researchers report. More...

    • Anemia Linked to Higher Odds for Dementia in Seniors

      Even mild anemia -- low levels of hemoglobin in the blood -- may raise a person's odds for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, a new study finds. More...

    • It's Not Just College Kids: Many Seniors Are Binge Drinking, Too

      Binge drinking is often associated with young adults, but according to a new study, more than 10% of people over 65 do it, too. More...

    • Middle Age Now a High-Risk Time for Bad Falls

      Serious falls aren't the sole domain of seniors: New research shows they are a significant risk among middle-aged adults. More...

    • Could Extra Weight Weaken Your Brain?

      Extra pounds and a wider waistline won't do your brain any favors as you get older, a new study suggests. More...

    • At Risk for Alzheimer's? Exercise Might Help Keep It at Bay

      Even if you are at high risk for Alzheimer's disease, a little more exercise may buy you time, new research suggests. More...

    • Healthy Living Can Cut Odds for Alzheimer's in People at Genetic Risk

      Even if you are unlucky enough to carry genes that predispose you to Alzheimer's disease, a healthy lifestyle can minimize that risk, new research shows. More...

    • More Evidence That Socializing Helps Protect the Aging Brain

      Join a book club, take a cruise or just visit friends -- new research supports the notion that social activities help stave off mental decline as you age. More...

    • Could Computers, Crafts Help Preserve the Aging Brain?

      Keeping your brain active as you age, whether it be working on a computer, playing games or being socially involved, might ward off memory loss, a new study suggests. More...

    • Ageism Disappears When Young and Old Spend Time Together

      Ageism is pervasive throughout society, and harmful to young and old alike. But a new study finds some simple steps can help erase it. More...

    • Meals on Wheels Delivers an Extra Health Bonus for Seniors

      Meals on Wheels might do more than deliver hot food to isolated seniors: New research suggests it can serve as an early warning system for declining health. More...

    • Survey Urges Grandparents to Lock Down Their Meds When Kids Visit

      Many American seniors fail to secure their medications when grandchildren are around, putting kids at risk of accidental poisoning, an alarming new survey finds. More...

    • 3 Moves for Better Balance

      Guarding against falls isn't just for the elderly. The inner ear's ability to maintain balance can begin to decline as early as age 40, according to a study in Frontiers of Neurology. So the time to improve your balance is now. More...

    • Forget the Past: Get Moving Now and Live Longer

      Stop agonizing over the decades you spent glued to the couch. New research shows that physically active middle-aged and older adults live longer -- even if they were inactive when they were younger. More...

    • Lonely Baby Boomers Driving Surge in Plastic Surgery

      Baby boomers hoping to retain their youth -- and maybe get back into the dating scene -- are seeking plastic surgery in ever-increasing numbers, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. More...

    • Health Tip: Preventing Glaucoma

      Certain ethnic groups, the elderly and people who have family members with glaucoma are at a higher risk than others for the eye disease, says the Glaucoma Research Foundation. More...

    • Education, Intelligence Might Protect Your Brain

      Being smart and highly educated may not prevent Alzheimer's disease, but it appears to delay the disease's impact on everyday life, a new study suggests. More...

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