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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

  • Many U.S. Seniors May Need Better Knee Arthritis Care

    Just a fraction of older Americans with arthritic knees try physical therapy, pain-relieving injections or other more conservative measures before undergoing knee replacement surgery, new research shows. More...

  • Cataracts: Common, and Easy to Treat

    Many aging Americans can have their vision dimmed by cataracts, but the good news is that they're easily treated, one expert says. More...

  • Old Age No Bar to Successful Heart Transplant, Study Finds

    People over 70 are far less likely to be considered for or to receive a new heart -- even though new research suggests their survival rates after transplant are similar to those of younger patients. More...

  • Pandemic Boosted Drinking Among Americans Over 50: Poll

    Drinking rose among older Americans during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that could put their health at risk, claim researchers behind a new poll. More...

  • AHA News: Overcoming Midlife Barriers to Exercise and Better Health

    Just 30 minutes of movement -- anything that gets your heart beating faster -- five times a week is all it takes to meet federal guidelines for physical activity. In fact, the goal is 150 minutes a week, whether it's split up daily or not. More...

  • 45 More
    • Too Much TV May Dull the Aging Brain

      Middle-aged folks who regularly turn to TV for entertainment appear to have a greater risk of decline in their reasoning and memory later in life, three new studies suggest. More...

    • Healthy Living Helps Prevent Dementia, Even If It Runs in the Family

      Researchers found that older adults with healthy habits had a lower risk of developing dementia, versus the less health-conscious -- even if a parent or sibling had suffered from the brain disease. More...

    • AHA News: Is It Normal Aging or Early Signs of Dementia?

      Misplacing keys. Forgetting names. Struggling to find the right word. Walking into a room and forgetting why. Are these early signs of dementia? Or normal signs of aging? More...

    • Do Prescription Sleep Medicines Even Work?

      An estimated 9 million Americans turn to prescription pills when they can't sleep, but a new study of middle-aged women finds taking the drugs for a year or longer may do little good. More...

    • Feel Younger Than Your Age? You Might Live Longer

      Can feeling young at heart, or at least younger than your actual age, help older people live healthier, longer lives? Yes, according to researchers in Germany. More...

    • U.S. Seniors Are Getting Fewer Abdominal Surgeries

      Older Americans, especially those 85 and older, are having fewer abdominal surgeries than in decades past, a new study finds. More...

    • AHA News: How Social Isolation Can Harm Health as You Age – and How to Prevent It

      Health experts say social isolation isn't just tough emotionally, it can cause physical harm to aging adults. It raises the risk of heart disease and stroke by roughly 30%, the risk for dementia by 50% and significantly raises the risk of dying prematurely. More...

    • Many Older Americans Aren't Telling Their Doctors They Use Pot

      Aging potheads are now past 50 and still puffing away, but new research shows that many don't disclose this to their doctors. More...

    • Higher Education Won't Help Preserve the Aging Brain: Study

      That college degree may be useful in many ways, but new research suggests it probably won't keep your brain from shrinking with age. More...

    • Lullaby Effect: Music Can Speed Your Way to Sleep, Study Finds

      Music hath charms to soothe you off to slumber, new research suggests. More...

    • High School Football Doesn't Affect Brain in Middle Age, Study Says

      Here's some good news for aging athletes: If you played high school football, you're no more likely than others to have problems with concentration, memory or depression in middle age, according to a new study. More...

    • Your Zip Code Could Help or Harm Your Brain

      Specifically, it found that middle-aged and older people in poorer neighborhoods showed more brain shrinkage and faster mental decline than those in affluent neighborhoods. More...

    • 4 in 10 Adults Over 50 Consult Online Reviews When Picking a Doctor

      Finding a new doctor can be a daunting task. For help, many older adults turn to online reviews, a new study finds. More...

    • Healthy Living in Middle Age Really Pays Off in Senior Years

      Live well, live longer. New research offers more evidence that the mantra rings true: People who got regular exercise and ate a healthy diet in middle age had a reduced risk of serious health problems as seniors. More...

    • Will High-Protein Diets Help the Middle-Aged Build Muscle?

      Middle-aged adults looking to boost their muscle mass do not need to bulk up on protein, a new study suggests. More...

    • Loneliness in Mid-Life Linked to Higher Odds for Alzheimer's

      Middle-aged folks who feel persistently lonely appear to have a nearly doubled risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease, a new study reports. More...

    • Drug Used in Cancer Patients Might Help Treat Alzheimer's

      A drug with a 30-year track record as an effective tool for fighting cancer may significantly improve memory and thinking in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests. More...

    • Exercise Boosts Blood Flow to Brain, Keeping it Sharp

      Regular aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which may help slow mental decline in older adults, a new, small study suggests. More...

    • Furry Friends: 1 in 10 Older U.S. Adults Has Adopted a 'Pandemic Pet'

      It was bound to happen: As the pandemic wore on, many older Americans couldn't resist the urge to bring home a furry friend. More...

    • Nearly All Seniors Take Meds That Raise Their Odds of Falling

      Two decades ago, about 57% of U.S. seniors took medications that increased their risk of falls. By 2017, that number had risen to 94%, and deaths caused by falls had more than doubled, a new study found. More...

    • Some Folks Do Age Slower Than Others

      People really do vary in how fast they age, and the divergence starts in young adulthood, a new study suggests. More...

    • 1 in 3 Older Thyroid Patients Takes a Med That Can Interfere With Tests

      Nearly one-third of seniors who take thyroid hormone also take drugs known to interfere with tests of thyroid function, a new study finds. More...

    • Vision Problems Are On the Decline for American Seniors

      Serious vision problems among older Americans have declined sharply, and the improvement has been greatest among women, folks over 85 and seniors who are Black or Hispanic, a nationwide study shows. More...

    • New Guidelines Mean Nursing Home Residents Can Hug Their Families Again

      After nearly a year of painful isolation, the U.S. government said Wednesday that vaccinated nursing home residents can hug their loved ones again and enjoy more indoor visits. More...

    • Many More Older Americans Willing to Get COVID Vaccine: Poll

      Older Americans are far more willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine than they were last fall, a new survey shows. More...

    • Alzheimer's Patients Are Being Given Too Many Meds

      Many older adults with dementia are prescribed dangerous combinations of drugs that raise their risk of overdose, falls and further mental deterioration, a new study finds. More...

    • Most Older Americans Need Hearing Checks, But Many Aren't Getting Them

      Even though research has shown that at least 50% of older adults suffer some degree of hearing loss, a new study finds that most aren't getting their hearing checked. More...

    • The Skinny on Wrinkle-Free Skin

      Wrinkles may be a natural part of getting older, but you can slow your skin's aging with changes to your lifestyle and environment, a skin expert says. More...

    • Scientists Gain Insight Into Genetics of Glaucoma

      Researchers have identified 44 new genetic variants associated with glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness. More...

    • 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...

    • 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...

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