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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

  • Get Moving, Seniors: It's Good For Your Brain

    Want to give your brain a boost? Go for a swim, take a walk, or spin your partner on the living room floor. More...

  • Millions of Older Americans Can't Get Enough Food

    Older Americans were going hungry even before the coronavirus pandemic short-circuited the nation's food supply, a new poll finds. More...

  • Can Fruits, Tea Help Fend Off Alzheimer's Disease?

    If you're worried about developing Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests that eating more fruits or drinking more tea or red wine might help protect your brain. More...

  • Vigorous Exercise Safe for Those at Risk of Knee Arthritis

    People at high risk for knee arthritis don't need to avoid jogging and other types of vigorous exercise, a new study suggests. More...

  • Middle Age More Stressful Now Than in 1990s: Study

    The study found that most age groups reported an increase of 2% more daily stress in 2012 than they did in 1995. But middle-aged folks -- 45- to 64-year-olds -- had about 19% more daily stress than did their counterparts from the 1990s. More...

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    • Pandemic Delaying Medical Care of Older Americans

      The University of Chicago survey found that 55% of U.S. adults aged 70 and older experienced a disruption in their medical care during the first month of social distancing. More...

    • Pneumonia More Deadly Than Hip Fractures for Hospitalized Seniors

      Seniors hospitalized with pneumonia are much more likely to die in the hospital and within two years of leaving the hospital than those with hip fractures, new research shows. More...

    • Active Older Vets More Likely to Fall, But Less Likely to Get Hurt: Study

      Physically active U.S. veterans are more likely to fall but less likely to get hurt when they do, compared with inactive older adults who didn't serve in the military, a new study finds. More...

    • Early On, Many Seniors Were Unfazed by Coronavirus Warnings, Study Finds

      The coronavirus hits older people and those with chronic medical conditions hardest. But many of these folks didn't take the virus seriously as the outbreak took off in the United States, a new study finds. More...

    • Even Light Exercise Can Speed Stroke Recovery

      Even light exercise can counter the damage of stroke in survivors, a new study suggests. More...

    • Sheltering at Home? Take Steps to Prevent Injuries From Falls

      As you shelter at home during the coronavirus pandemic, eliminate hazards inside that could lead to falls, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests. More...

    • Are Steroids Really the Answer for Arthritic Knees?

      Folks with knee arthritis will get more out of physical therapy than a cortisone shot, a new clinical trial argues. More...

    • How Pets Can Be True Lifesavers for Seniors

      Having a furry, fluffy or feathered friend can have a profound effect on seniors' mental health, possibly even helping prevent some suicides, new research suggests. More...

    • Vitamin D Might Aid Seniors' Recovery From Hip Fracture: Study

      After a broken hip, seniors who have sufficient vitamin D have better odds of walking, a new study finds. More...

    • Mindfulness a Powerful Tool for Aging

      Mindfulness may explain why many older people feel their life has gotten better with age, a new study suggests. More...

    • Pandemic Adds to Challenge of Caring for Loved One With Dementia

      Now, with most of the country under stay-at-home orders -- and elderly adults especially vulnerable to severe COVID-19 -- family caregivers face new challenges. More...

    • Is Thyroid Hormone Dangerously Overprescribed in Older Patients?

      Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is commonly prescribed when blood tests show a dip in thyroid hormone levels, but new research suggests it may not always be the best choice for older adults. More...

    • Don't Fall Prey to COVID-19 Scammers

      The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a wave of scammers looking to take advantage of older adults, experts warn. More...

    • AHA News: Dropping Blood Pressure May Predict Frailty, Falls in Older People

      Blood pressure that goes down when you stand up is associated with frailty and falls in older people, according to a new study that advocates more testing. More...

    • When Is Surgery Not Safe for Seniors?

      Poor physical function, dementia and depression all raise seniors' risk of death after a major operation and should be factored into their pre-surgery assessments, researchers say. More...

    • Rising Number of Older Americans at Risk of Vision Loss

      As the population ages, millions of older Americans are at risk of losing their sight, a new study warns. More...

    • U.S. Primary Care Docs Unprepared for Surge in Alzheimer's Cases

      Many U.S. primary care doctors worry they aren't ready to care for the growing ranks of Americans with Alzheimer's disease, a new report suggests. More...

    • Even a Little Activity Keeps Aging Brains From Shrinking, Study Shows

      Take a walk, weed your garden, go for a swim or dance -- it could keep your brain from shrinking as you age, a new study suggests. More...

    • Seniors, Getting Off the Sofa Brings Big Health Benefits

      Physical activity may help seniors live longer and healthier -- and exercise doesn't have to be intense, two new studies say. More...

    • Helping Seniors Manage Meds After Hospital Reduces Readmission: Study

      Helping older people manage their prescribed medicines after they leave the hospital reduces their risk of readmission, researchers say. More...

    • Many Seniors Leave Hospital With New Disabilities

      Older Americans often return home from the hospital with disabilities they didn't have before, a new study finds. More...

    • Sleepy Seniors Have Higher Health Risks

      If you're over 65 and sleeping well at night, yet find yourself nodding off during the day, you may have a higher risk of developing new medical conditions like diabetes and cancer. More...

    • Losing a Spouse Could Speed Brain's Decline

      Losing a spouse can be a heartbreaker, and new research suggests it's also tough on the brain. More...

    • Time Spent on the Links May Lengthen Life

      Grab your golf clubs. Spending a day on the green at least once a month may lower the risk of early death among older adults, a new study finds. More...

    • With Macular Degeneration, 1 Missed Visit to Eye Doc Can Mean Vision Loss

      Missing just one eye doctor appointment can result in vision loss in older adults with macular degeneration, a new study warns. More...

    • Ageism Affects People Around the Globe

      Discrimination based on age -- ageism -- is widespread throughout the world, and it takes a toll, new research reveals. More...

    • Life Expectancy in U.S. Increases for First Time in 4 Years

      After four years of declines, life expectancy in the United States increased in 2018, health officials reported Thursday. More...

    • Diets Rich in Fruits, Veggies Could Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer's

      Older adults who regularly consume a group of antioxidants called flavonols may have a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests. More...

    • Blood Pressure Dips Upon Standing Might Not Be as Dangerous as Thought

      A common condition called "orthostatic hypotension" -- a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up -- has long been tied to the potential for dangerous falls in older people. More...

    • All in the Timing: Many Get Knee Replacement Too Late or Too Soon

      It's a question many aging Americans face: Is it time to replace my aching knee, or should I wait? More...

    • Want a Long, Healthy Old Age? A Healthy Middle Age Helps

      Middle-aged Americans who are exercising and eating right, give yourselves a pat on the back: Your efforts will pay off, new research shows. More...

    • Even 1 Night's Bad Sleep Can Raise Levels of a Brain 'Marker' for Alzheimer's

      Poor sleep has been linked to the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and now a new study suggests a possible reason why. More...

    • Seniors Still Wary of Online Reviews When Picking Doctors

      Most older Americans don't fully rely on or trust online ratings of doctors, a new study finds. More...

    • Want to Turn Back the Aging Clock? Train for a Marathon

      Your New Year's resolution to run a marathon for the first time could be your ticket to a younger and healthier heart, a new study suggests. More...

    • Exercise May Keep Your Brain Healthy

      Exercise may do more than build body strength: New research shows it might also keep brain cells in shape. More...

    • More Doubt That Plaques in the Brain Cause Alzheimer's

      Researchers reporting Dec. 30 in the journal Neurology have found that early declines in memory and thinking seen in Alzheimer's patients tend to occur before amyloid plaques begin to appear in the brain, not after. More...

    • To Avoid Falls, Check Your Balance

      Preventing falls is a priority for staying healthy and preventing painful broken bones as you age. Easy strength and balance exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere, such as tai chi and yoga, can help you stay steady on your feet. More...

    • Fatty Diets Tied to Leading Cause of Vision Loss in Seniors

      The study found that people who ate more typical Western diets were three times more likely to develop an eye condition that robs you of your central vision -- late-stage age-related macular degeneration. More...

    • Vitamin D Alone Doesn't Prevent Fractures, New Study Finds

      Taking calcium and vitamin D might help older adults curb the risk of a bone fracture, but vitamin D alone does not do the job, a new research review concludes. More...

    • Love Museums, Theater? The Arts Might Extend Your Life

      If you're a senior who loves to take in the latest art exhibit or check out a new musical, it might do more than stimulate your senses: New research suggests it could lengthen your life. More...

    • Out-of-Pocket Costs for Medicare Recipients Will Rise in New Year

      Seniors on Medicare are going to take a hit to the pocketbook in 2020, with premiums and deductibles set to increase on coverage for medical services and prescription drugs. More...

    • 'Prehab' Before Surgery Helps Speed Seniors' Recovery

      "Training" for surgery can improve seniors' outcomes and reduce insurance costs, a new study says. More...

    • Rural Seniors Hurt by Lack of Medical Specialists

      American seniors living in rural areas face a higher risk of hospitalization and death, and a lack of medical specialists may be the reason why, researchers report. More...

    • How Well Are You Aging? A Blood Test Might Tell

      Imagine a blood test that could spot whether you are aging too quickly. New research suggests it's not the stuff of science fiction anymore. More...

    • Taking Several Prescription Drugs May Trigger Serious Side Effects

      Many older Americans take a variety of prescription drugs, yet new research suggests that combining various medications is not always wise. More...

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