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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

  • 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...

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    • '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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • Get Dizzy Upon Standing? It Could Be Sign of Dementia Risk

      Are you a middle-aged person who tends to feel a little woozy when you stand up? More...

    • Many Americans With Dementia Don't Know They Have It: Study

      Many older Americans with dementia don't know they have the disease, a new study indicates. More...

    • How Common Is Dementia Among LGBT Seniors?

      Dementia strikes about one in 13 lesbian, gay or bisexual seniors in the United States, a new study finds. More...

    • Health Tip: Help Prevent Bone Fractures

      More than 53 million people in the United States have osteoporosis or are at higher risk due to low bone mass, the U.S. National Institutes of Health says. More...

    • 1 in 9 U.S. Adults Over 45 Reports Memory Problems

      If you're middle-aged and you think you're losing your memory, you're not alone, a new U.S. government report shows. More...

    • Scientists Target Cellular 'Fountain of Youth' to Extend Mouse Life Span

      Interested in turning back the hands of time and living a longer, healthier life? Scientists say their work with aged mice might have gotten a small step closer to that goal. More...

    • Medical Marijuana a Hit With Seniors

      Seniors are giving rave reviews for medical marijuana. More...

    • Cost Keeps Many Americans From Getting Hearing Aids

      A hearing aid can set you back as much as $7,000, and that's the main reason more Americans don't use one, a new study finds. More...

    • As the Eyes Go, So May the Mind

      A new study sheds light on how vision loss is linked to mental decline in seniors. More...

    • Cataract Surgery Tied to Fewer Car Crashes for Seniors

      Data on more than half a million Canadian seniors shows that traffic accident rates fall after drivers undergo a needed cataract surgery. More...

    • Does Human Life Span Really Have a Limit?

      The limits of human existence might not be as limited as we have long thought. More...

    • Fit at Midlife May Mean Healthier Brain, Stronger Heart Later

      If you're fit in middle age, you might be guarding against not only depression as a senior, but also dying from heart disease if you do develop depression, a new study suggests. More...

    • Health Tip: Risk Factors for Male Osteoporosis

      While people typically associate osteoporosis with women, men aren't immune. More...

    • AHA: Aging LGBT Seniors a 'Major Public Health Issue'

      LGBT people of all ages have experienced health inequalities, but researchers have begun to delve into the consequences of a lifetime of that inequity -- and what happens to their health as they grow older. More...

    • 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...

    • 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...

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