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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

  • Mediterranean Diet Could Keep Aging Brains Sharp

    Helping your brain stay sharp with age may be as simple as changing up the food on your plate at dinnertime, a new study suggests. More...

  • Alzheimer's May Strike Women and Men in Different Ways

    The ravages of Alzheimer's may strike later in women than men, but once it takes hold women tend to deteriorate far faster than men, according to a new study. More...

  • AHA News: Black, Hispanic Families Hit Hardest by Dementia

    While dementia risk in the United States has been relatively stable over the past two decades, racial disparities have remained high, according to research published last year in JAMA Neurology. More...

  • Why Some 'Super Ager' Folks Keep Their Minds Dementia-Free

    Researchers may have uncovered a key reason some people remain sharp as a tack into their 80s and 90s: Their brains resist the buildup of certain proteins that mark Alzheimer's disease. More...

  • New Hope for Better Treatments Against Macular Degeneration

    A number of new treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive eye disease, are under development. AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in older people. More...

  • 45 More
    • Too Little Sleep Could Raise Your Dementia Risk

      Older adults who get little sleep each night may be at heightened risk of dementia or earlier death, a new study suggests. More...

    • Why Adding on a Few Pounds as You Age Might Be Good for You

      Putting on a few extra pounds in your 50s may add years to your life -- if you start off at a normal weight and your weight gain doesn't tip into obesity, a new study suggests. More...

    • 1 in 5 Older Americans Lack Space to 'Isolate at Home' If COVID Strikes

      If there is one thing the coronavirus pandemic has taught people, it is that how much living space you have matters when you or someone you love falls ill with COVID-19. More...

    • No Gym Required: How Seniors Can Exercise During Lockdown

      At-home workouts can help strengthen muscles, improve balance, increase blood flow to the heart, boost the immune system and reduce stress, according to Summer Cook, an associate professor of kinesiology and an expert on senior fitness at the University of New Hampshire, in Durham. More...

    • Frustrations Mount for U.S. Seniors Seeking Access to COVID Vaccines

      Exasperation is building among seniors across the United States, many of whom are encountering similar roadblocks trying to line up a potentially life-saving vaccination, experts say. More...

    • AHA News: Keeping Your Brain Sharp Isn't About Working More Puzzles

      Mental decline is one of the most feared aspects of growing older. People will do just about anything to prevent it, from swallowing supplements touted as memory boosters to spending hours solving Sudoku and crossword puzzles. But do these things really keep the aging brain sharp? The short answer is, not really. More...

    • Aphasia Affects Brain Similar to Alzheimer's, But Without Memory Loss

      A rare brain disease that causes loss of language skills doesn't lead to memory loss, a new study finds. More...

    • Weight Training Benefits Older Women, Men Equally, Study Shows

      A new study compared the results of women and men aged 50 to 90 who started resistance training exercise programs, finding that though men were more likely to gain absolute muscle size, their gains were on par with women's relative to body size. More...

    • Get Fit in Middle Age to Boost Your Aging Brain

      Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in middle age and beyond might help keep your brain healthy, a new study suggests. More...

    • 'Stepped' Approach to Exercise Can Help With Arthritic Knees

      Millions of Americans suffer from the pain of arthritic knees. But an innovative exercise regimen may help relieve discomfort and improve knee function, a new study finds. More...

    • Older and Getting Surgery? Get Fit Beforehand

      Getting fit before surgery can limit the amount of muscle older adults will lose during their recovery, researchers say. More...

    • How to Talk to Your Doctor About Arthritis Pain

      Chronic pain can be excruciating, debilitating and hard to describe. Yet the best way to get the right treatment for the exact pain you're experiencing is to put those symptoms into words, so your doctor can pinpoint a diagnosis and help you find relief. More...

    • High-Dose Vitamin D Won't Prevent Seniors' Falls: Study

      High doses of vitamin D may increase seniors' risk of falls, rather than reduce it, according to a new study. More...

    • Could Dirty Air Help Speed Alzheimer's?

      Older adults exposed to air pollution might have a heightened risk of abnormal "plaque" accumulation in the brain, a new study suggests. More...

    • Delirium May Be Only Sign of Severe COVID in Elderly: Study

      They may have confusion with an altered level of consciousness, disorientation, inattention and other mental disturbances, but none of the other typical signs of the coronavirus infection, such as fever and cough, researchers say. More...

    • Most Americans Over 50 Would Get COVID Vaccine: Poll

      The majority of older Americans say they're likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but many would want to wait a bit before getting the shot, a new survey reveals. More...

    • Sitting Raises Women's Odds for Heart Failure

      Too much sitting or lying down significantly increases older women's risk of hospitalization for heart failure, even if they get recommended amounts of physical activity, a new study warns. More...

    • Amid Lockdowns, Online Exercise Classes Help Seniors Feel Less Alone

      The classes reduce loneliness and social isolation, according to a new study. And early results suggest that's true even after the coronavirus pandemic forced those classes to meet virtually. More...

    • When Your Spouse Gripes About Aging, It Might Harm Your Health

      In older couples, one spouse's negative thoughts about aging can affect the other spouse's health, a new study indicates. More...

    • Upbeat Outlook Could Shield Your Brain

      Researchers analyzed data from almost 1,000 middle-aged and older U.S. adults who took part in a national study. The upshot: Being upbeat pays dividends. More...

    • Staying Active as You Age Not a Guarantee Against Dementia

      Researchers found no link between middle-aged folks taking part in leisure activities and their risk of dementia over the next two decades, according to findings published online Oct. 28 in the journal Neurology. More...

    • Fading Sense of Smell Could Signal Higher Death Risk in Older Adults

      If you're a senior who can't smell onions, smoke, chocolate or natural gas, it's time to see your doctor. More...

    • Exercise Boosts Physical, Mental Well-Being of Older Cancer Survivors

      Active older adults -- cancer survivors included -- are in better physical and mental health than their sedentary peers, a new study finds. More...

    • Older Adults Turning to Pot for Common Health Problems

      Marijuana is fast becoming a favorite medication among older Americans, a new study finds. Cannabis is being used to ease problems such as pain, sleep disturbances and psychiatric conditions like anxiety and depression, researchers say. More...

    • Staying Social Can Boost Healthy 'Gray Matter' in Aging Brains

      Older adults who get together with friends, volunteer or go to classes have healthier brains, which could help them ward off dementia, according to a new study. More...

    • Is Apathy an Early Sign of Dementia?

      Older adults who aren't interested or enthusiastic about their usual activities may have a higher risk of developing dementia, new research suggests. More...

    • Many Older Americans With Heart Failure Take 10 or More Meds

      When older people hospitalized for heart failure are sent home, they are often given a whopping 10 medications to take for a variety of conditions. But is this "polypharmacy" practice necessary, or does it just place a bigger burden on already frail patients? More...

    • Shall You Dance? Study Finds Dancing Helps Seniors Avoid Falls

      Preventing falls in older age could be as fun as dancing them away, new research shows. More...

    • Study Sheds Light on Why COVID-19 Hits Elderly Hardest

      Elderly people who get COVID-19 have lower levels of important immune cells, which may explain why they are more likely than younger patients to have severe symptoms or die, new research suggests. More...

    • Early Results Show Moderna's COVID Vaccine Safe, Effective in Older People

      The results of an early phase 1 trial in 40 adults over the age of 55 suggests that one vaccine, under development by drugmaker Moderna, elicits an immune system response that's equal to that seen in younger recipients. More...

    • Lockdown Could Worsen Hearing Woes for U.S. Seniors

      Isolation due to the pandemic and failure to get hearing aids checked has fueled anxiety, depression and more hearing loss for many seniors. More...

    • Older Patients at Risk When Dentists Prescribe Opioids

      Seniors who take depression and anxiety drugs shouldn't be prescribed opioid painkillers by their dentist because it puts them at increased risk for problems, researchers warn. More...

    • Fall Risk Rises Even in Alzheimer's Early Stages

      In older people a fall can sometimes be a sign of oncoming Alzheimer's disease, even in the absence of mental issues, new research suggests. More...

    • Middle-Aged Americans Report More Pain Than Seniors

      Middle-aged Americans are living with more physical pain than older adults are -- and the problem is concentrated among the less-educated, a new study finds. More...

    • Poll Finds Pandemic Surge in Loneliness Among Older Adults

      The constraints of the coronavirus pandemic have many more older adults feeling lonely this summer than in years past. According to a new poll, many older adults are feeling isolated while they protect themselves from the virus. More...

    • Isolation, Loneliness of Lockdowns Is Tough on America's Seniors

      Seniors are among those most at risk for dying from COVID-19, and so they've been urged to socially distance during the pandemic. But experts fear this isolation, while protecting them from a potentially fatal infection, might be wearing away at their health in other ways. More...

    • Teens, Seniors Are Often Driving the Least Safe Cars

      Seniors and teens are more likely to drive vehicles that lack important safety features, a new study finds. More...

    • Common Meds Tied to Faster Mental Decline in Seniors

      A group of widely used medications might speed up older adults' mental decline -- especially if they are at increased risk of dementia, a new study hints. More...

    • Seniors With Depression Show Resilience in Face of Pandemic

      Older Americans with depression have held up well to the threat of COVID-19, a new study finds. More...

    • Are Opioids Prescribed Too Freely as Patients Are Moved to Nursing Homes?

      When hospital patients are moved to a skilled nursing facility, they are too often given a prescription for a high-dose opioid painkiller, new research suggests. More...

    • Telehealth Skyrocketing Among Older Adults

      More older Americans have been seeing their doctors virtually since the pandemic began than ever before, a new poll finds. More...

    • Why Are Dementia Patients Getting Risky Psychiatric Drugs?

      As many as 3 in 4 older adults with dementia have been prescribed drugs that may pose a risk to them, researchers report. More...

    • Education Benefits the Brain Over a Lifetime

      A new study confirms what your parents always told you: Getting an education opens the door to career opportunities and higher salaries. But it may also benefit your well-being in old age. More...

    • Could Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Hasten Cancer in Seniors?

      Taking a daily low-dose aspirin may speed the progression of cancer in the elderly, a new clinical trial shows. More...

    • Can Seniors Handle Results of Alzheimer's Risk Tests?

      As researchers hone in on ways to detect whether someone has a high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease before they have any symptoms, mental health professionals have worried what the psychological fallout of that knowledge might be. More...

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